Monday, February 17, 2020

Controlling Governments

I haven't given much thought to communism over the years, but with the recent Coronavirus outbreak. I've had some interesting insights and reminders about controlling governments. It has been interesting to see how slow the Chinese government was to admit that they had a serious health crisis on their hands. They even criticized other countries that had issued warnings to their citizens about travelling to China saying they were over-reacting and promoting needless fear. It's also been disturbing to see Chinese citizens, reporters, and bloggers attempting to tell the world about the actual severity of the problem be censored, jailed, or just simply disappear. On the bright side, a controlling government made it much easier to shut down and quarantine a city with twice the population of Los Angeles. That would be much harder to do in the US where people are accustomed to going wherever and whenever they want.

I've noticed a similar patterns in other countries over the years. The citizens of North Korea are only allowed access to media that is provided by their government. There is no social media or interaction with other countries. All the movies made in North Korea are produced by the government and this propaganda paints their leader as a man who is approaching deity. Their starving citizens are taught to fear the rest of the world and are constantly being told how well they have it. The last thing their leaders want is for their citizens to have their eyes opened to how the rest of the world is living and to the freedoms they do not enjoy. In a way it seems like North Korea is pulling a massive Truman Show prank on 25 million people.

Speaking of the Coronavirus, it might not spread into North Korea as quickly as other countries since it is so isolated with travel restrictions for visitors, however; if it ever did infect North Korean citizens, I doubt their government would ever be willing to acknowledge it.

North Korea keeps it's citizens in the dark "literally"

In 1986 I remember learning of the nuclear power plant disaster at Chernobyl. The Soviet Union downplayed the severity of that situation and their state controlled media tried to cover up and minimize what had happened. It seems in many of these communist countries the image a country is trying to project for the rest of the world is valued more than the safety and well being of it's citizens. These countries are frequently too proud to admit the truth about many issues if it does not line up with the propaganda they have been promoting to their citizens and the rest of the world.

Going back even further to the late 70's I remember visiting Germany when the Berlin wall was still up. This was during the days of East and West Berlin and the difference between the two was shocking. I will never forget visiting the Check Point Charlie museum as a young kid and seeing how those in the East would risk their lives to try and get to the other side in order to flee their government.

Reviewing these examples of Oppressive governments makes me grateful for the freedom I have. My country is not perfect and I admit it has many problems. Ironically, I know this due to the fact that we have freedom of speech and the press. I don't think I could handle living in a world where my mail, phone conversations, and e-mails were monitored and censored. I complain enough as it is about my entertainment options but I'd go crazy if I could only watch government approved programs and was told what kind of music, clothes, and hairstyle I could enjoy. Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to bear arms are things we can easily take for granted.

I am not anti-government. Governments play an important role in bringing order to society. I also understand that many bad things can happen within a country when it gives it's citizens so much freedom but when you weigh the problems of a free society versus the problems of a society where government controls every aspect of your life, I will always choose freedom. Many young people today believe in a Utopian form of government that will take care of all of their wants and needs and solve all their problems. I would suggest they have probably not been around the world or studied history enough to see what happens to your standard of living when you relinquish your freedoms over time to a government for the promise of future benefits.

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