The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il might not lead to as much change in North Korea as we might hope, but hope for positive change can be ignited and that hope includes the wish that leaders of other countries try to explore how they can help positive change for everyone rather than what they can do in the game of chess that politics so often involves.
Sudden death like this creates a need to examine what is really the context for change in a new environment. I am sure there will have been many sessions in governments which went through the what ifs of his death and probably many others. But let’s see if we can help.
Initially the situation looks complex. All kinds of different things could happen as a result of behaviour by local and distant governments. All kinds of changes might be possible within the politics of the leading group in North Korea itself. Sudden presentation of a complex issue means we should be very wary of trying to use reason to decide what to do next. Reason tends to lead us in to overvaluing some small aspect of a situation and then we spend years trying to rectify the damage done.
If what we should do is collaborate rather than compete, and the complexity and risk with many unknowns suggest this might be best, then we should be looking to our intuition to get a sense of what might now be important, or how we might raise the importance of some feature of the new situation which symbolises a desire to be working together, and possibly together with the new government and leader.
We are all part of this complex development, though we may seem far away. For us each to see this as an opportunity to have a feel for the situation now could be the start of something better. We can see ourselves as part of the future of this region and see it optimistically. If we do so then we are triggering a positive response, and who knows, the butterfly’s wings may lead to momentous change. We certainly may have more chance of positive influence this way than trying to demand action to, say, support an uprising, which reason may suggest is possible given this year’s events in North Africa but our intuition might suggest is way too rational for common sense to agree with.
So in seeing this: “North Korea has a chance here. Either rise up against the few thugs or live in fear. It would be nice to see in the news the people re rejoicing like how they did in Iraq. If we see that then it could be a sign of good things to come. But at the end of the day North Korea is still the enemy, for now.” I think I have to reject it as not leading anywhere, however much in sympathy I might be with the hope. We don’t help resolve problems and issues by oversimplifying them.
Better to learn a little about North Korea first. How large is the country? Well, it is about half the size of the UK. With a bit less than half the population. We don’t need to learn what its National Anthem sounds like, though you can here if you want. You will not be surprised that its GDP per capita is a small fraction of that in the UK, but you might be surprised to know its history goes back on record over 2000 years with the foundation of the Jo-seon dynasty. And it had the world’s oldest moveable type printing press, beating Europe by quite a lot of years.
Now they are increasing numbers of mobile phone users, and they have a space programme, but the feel of a country is more than money and technology. What about religion? What about the arts?
Where complexity exists it is good to support our intuition in ways which are reasonably reliable. At least that would be a good start. We might then know how to respond when people suggest this or that would be good, and get it a bit more right than wrong.
As we approach the new year many people will use the idea of new year resolutions to review the year just gone and the year ahead.
Mostly it will be an intuitive review, how does it feel, rather than a reasoned review, what are the numbers in the bank balance. I am sure the review for some will have an emotional edge aided by alcohol, which is a shame because such reviews are an important part of how we develop our lives.
Funerals are where we look back, weddings where we look forward (except for the groom’s speech which tends to be an embarrassing look back), birthdays where we celebrate being in the present. Such ceremonies are a rational trigger to remind us that review is vital to life change, to avoid being stuck forever in a place we do not want to be.
Without review, choices are simply running in ruts, being driven by the latest fashion or being controlled by habit, by prejudice, by the need to conform.
Many leaders have fallen this year, leaders who could have done better by reviewing what was really happening, at times of progressive change and times of catalytic change. The worst got it wrong on both occasions, overseeing decline and then collapse.
Our own lives can be the same, decline and then collapse, unless we review.
So, time to review our health, which includes being honest about the real numbers, weight, exercise, food and drink. If you can’t walk a mile without being tired then you need more exercise, if you can’t run up the stairs then you need to build up muscle again, you can be over 70 and run up mountains, some do, so what not you?
And time to review our friendships, our love and joy in work, our place in the world. That means time to switch off the TV and get out there walking, talking and walking is good for the body and the mind. It means time sitting somewhere, just letting thoughts come. It means picking up a book from the library at random, well, maybe picking up 10 different books and then finding one that gets you interested.
Let’s end with some more radical resolutions and see which ones you can paste up on the fridge door:
1. A no TV month: If you are thinking of replacing that TV, go without TV for a month before you buy the next one. You never know, you may like it so much you can save on a whole year’s TV licence (UK that is).
2. A no car month: That would get you walking, meeting people, looking around you instead of the road ahead. You might end up buying a bike and saving loads of money!
3. A no take-away month: only eat what you cook, all fresh, and find you can have fun in the kitchen with friends.
4. A no purchase month: apart from food for survival, get by on nothing else (soap and toilet paper may be allowable?).
Maybe you can think up some more, but meanwhile, have a great time reflecting on things good in your life and in the lives of others, it is a great world out there, a lot of the time.
Live well, live fully, live peacefully, live happy.