...mysterious blog title, eh?
A few days ago I saw the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. A really fantastic, beautiful, and briefly innocent movie. It’s a film set during WWII about a German concentration camp as seen through the eyes of two 8 year old boys. In one scene, the son of the commandant at a concentration camp sees a news film that his father is previewing to his fellow staff. Happy, dancing Jews in a work camp, enjoying football, snacks in a cafe, and wearing regular clothing and still sporting full heads of hair. The young boy believes that this is really what life is like for his young Jewish friend, and is quite confused by the pajamas he wears.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away for those who want to see this movie or read the book. But the effect of propaganda on a people is amazing. Propaganda is a form of education. Would you believe that thousands upon thousands of people were being murdered by your fellow countrymen if all you saw as evidence was a film with people playing games and enjoying snacks at a cafe? What if children were being taught that certain fellow citizens were the root of all that was wrong and evil in the world and should be punished, so that you, the chosen race, would thrive. It’s unfathomable if you think about it from the perspective of innocence. That time before you glimpse that reality. You just…...can’t….. believe…... it’s possible. How could it be?
Now that I have you thinking…let me bring you to the present. Last weekend Kim Jong Il died. He died days before the world knew it had happened. If you watched the news, you saw clips of men, women, and children wailing uncontrollably. North Korea doesn’t allow anything out of the country without government approval. There is no Facebook, Google, or open internet. Plenty of time for certain parties to create news footage of supposedly grief-stricken citizens. My very first thought after seeing The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tied the propaganda from Nazi Germany to what I was seeing coming out of North Korea. Perhaps those folks truly were bereft. Or maybe it was all how North Korea wanted to portray reality—to it’s own citizens and the world. (North Korea is far more complicated than what I have time to delve into here, and I am certainly far from an expert. Fair enough to say they are not a democracy with freedoms of speech, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.)
As an aside, I don’t want you readers to think that I for one minute am not also a victim of propaganda. We (the U.S.) do it, too. But we also enjoy freedoms that many other people in the world do not.
Are those wheels still turning in your head? Good.
The next time you read about a certain people being evil, unholy, forsaken souls because of their faith, skin color, or nationality, don’t take this “education” at face value. Ask questions. Get to know people who are “different” from you. The situation could just as easily be reversed. It could be you wearing those striped pajamas.
We can change the world.
Peace on Earth. Good will towards all.