Once in a while, we encounter something so impactful that we simply can’t ignore it. It’s something that begins to fundamentally unmoor us from our worldview. This doesn’t happen very often. After all, most of us are pretty committed to our worldview. We think we’re living life the right way, and there’s not much that can move us. Until it’s just so significant that we can’t look away.
It’s like you’re driving down a road, confident that you’re on the right road, going to the right destination, and you see something that clearly indicates you are not going in the correct direction. That used to happen to me when I first moved to the Washington, D.C. area right out of college. We didn’t have cell phones back then. You had to have a very good idea of how to get to your destination, or you had to have a good map of the area. More than once, I can remember ending up going the wrong way on the Beltline, which is the massive Interstate that encircles D.C. At some point, I would see a sign that showed me very clearly that I was going the wrong way.
That happens in life as well. We are so sure that we know where we’re going and how to get there. And sometimes we see the sign that shows us that it just ain’t so.
This happened not long to a British man who visited North Korea. Wait, you’re probably saying. He VISITED North Korea? Yes, the Hermit Kingdom does actually allow some foreigners to visit. This happened to be a group called the Korean Friendship Association (KFA). This group, primarily in Europe, tries to find Europeans who are sympathetic or outright supportive of the North Korean regime. This group often rallies or protests in support of Kim Jong-Un’s regime or even arranges some trips to North Korea.
This unnamed British man, who we will call “Chad”, was on such a trip to North Korea. Usually, those trips are carefully planned by the North Korean government, designed to only show the best side of North Korea. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many “best sides” left of the deteriorating country. The driver got lost and drove down an unapproved route. Along this route, they could see children chained together doing construction work, impoverished people dressed in rags, soldiers who were emaciated, and other soldiers who were using bags of rice supplied by the U.S. for civilian use.
This man, stunned, realized he had been had. He realized that the North Korean regime is a fraud. He changed his view completely about that country. In his words, he “wised up and saw the truth, not some idiotic blinkered vision of socialism.”
This often happens concerning communism and socialism.
I have read a few nonfiction books about people who have escaped communist countries. One of the more interesting ones was Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. It follows several individuals who escaped from North Korea during the past few decades. All of these individuals were born and raised in North Korea, so they knew nothing else. They accepted the carefully crafted and censored news provided by the North Korean government, so they thought they were in a country better than anything else on the planet. For each of them, they began to have glimpses of life outside North Korea from non-government sources and realized maybe things weren’t so bad outside their country. Maybe it was even better. It is an understatement to say that they were surprised when they got outside North Korea and found out how much better it was! They truly feel that they were duped by their government.
Something like that is beginning to happen in Venezuela. When Chavez was elected to the presidency and brought in a socialistic form of government, everything seemed good for the average citizen for a number of year. However, over time, it became apparent that the economy was failing and was getting worse. Maduro took over and continued Chavez’ policies, which has only made the economy worse and worse. The majority of the people, who applauded the socialistic policies of Chavez, have now realized how destructive the policies were, causing food shortages and hyperinflation. Basically, people are standing in line for long hours at stores that have virtually nothing, so they can buy them with currency that is virtually worthless.
The people have elected a legislature that stands in opposition to Maduro, but Maduro has the ability to stop virtually anything the legislature tries to enact. And last week, the Venezuelan Supreme Court declared the legislature to be unnecessary. This allows Maduro to become the nation’s dictator, even though he will probably continue to declare it’s not so.
The Venezuelan people have had the curtains drawn back, and they now realize that the elected a tyrant. It will be some time before they will be able to reverse course on the road they have been traveling.
I also recently read a book about cult mind control entitled Combating Cult Mind Control by Steve Hasan. The author was himself a Moonie, having been recruited during his college years. He accepted the eccentric and erroneous worldview of that cult until he literally hit a roadblock. He had been working terribly long hours to help raise money for the cult. He ended up driving a truck for them after having very little sleep over the past 2 days. As a result, he had an accident that forced him to consider whether he was really doing the right thing. It took a long time for him and his family to begin to peel back the layers of lies he had been accepting for many years. He began to study mind control, starting with the Moonies, and applying it to a variety of organizations, some, of which, we know as cults.
Having a rude awakening to the possibility that we have been living by a false worldview is both a terrible and a wonderful thing. When our worldview is shaken, we should reexamine it. If it is a strong, healthy, and resilient worldview, it will survive. If not, we should begin to look at why that is so and look elsewhere.