A World Too Much With Us

Ed Raymond

Three “Great Leaders” Who Might Really Screw Up The World     

If you have had a chance to watch documentaries based on North Korean culture you had to notice that all citizens referred to 33-year-old Kim Jong Un as their “Great Leader” in interviews. His picture was always visible whether inside or out, indicating that he remains in power through fear and intimidation that only a cult icon can possess. As the ruling grandson of his ruling grandfather it helps tremendously to stay in power by murdering your half-brother with poison and putting an uncle in front of a firing squad. The huge “goose-stepping” military parades containing mobile missiles and massive tableaus of physical exhibitions by thousands that he watches from up high have a robotic, disturbing ambiance. If you watched the dozens of large campaign rallies held by President Donald Trump in stadiums and airport hangers and how he handled protesters and supporters reminded me that he had the same “Great Leader” characteristics as his North Korean counterpart. Our “Great Leader” has lied in a thousand tweets, worships adulation, uses Fox News and the National Enquirer as his intelligence sources, and is compulsive, vindictive, abusive, and has the attention span of a gnat, according to his ghost writer. Remember when King Donald said he lost many close friends in the World Towers during 9/11? Records show that he attended no funerals for months after that date. By the way, the North Korean mobile missiles are carried by large Chinese trucks. Sometimes the Chinese really are inscrutable.  

North Korea Is Dark In Many Ways  

As the International Space Station flies over North Korea astronauts notice that the country is mostly dark at night. That’s Stalinist North Korea. Capitalist South Korea next-door is lit up like day. Kim Jong Un is basically a blackmailer using the threat of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles to maintain his power in the world, region, and country. By starving his people he maintains a million-man army, 1,400 combat aircraft, 300 transports, 300 helicopters, 4,200 tanks, 2,200 armored vehicles, 8,600 artillery pieces, 5,500 multiple rocket launchers, 70 submarines—and an estimated 10-15 nuclear weapons. Kim Jong Un has demonstrated he can be double as barbarous and cruel as Bashar al-Assad in Syria--and as rational and power-hungry as Russia’s Vladimir Putin. With our “Great Leader” destroying our international reputation and credibility with thousands of lies and “what-the-hell-does-he-mean” tweets, these three ”Great Leaders” have a real chance to blow up the world in the 21st Century.  

“The Winds That Will Be Howling…”     

The French and American Revolutions had just ended when English poet William Wordsworth lamented about what these wars meant to common people who had died in them in his poem “The World Is Too Much With Us” :     

“The world is too much with us late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our powers;--Little we see in Nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This sea that bares her bosom to the moon; the winds that will be howling at all hours, and are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not.”     

There are a number of other crazy leaders in the world but none match the trifecta of disaster represented by Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump. Because of these three we have no idea what will happen in the third decade of the 21st Century. “Great Leader” Kim runs North Korea as one huge forced-labor concentration camp, imprisoning entire families. He spends so much on international blackmail North Koreans are five inches shorter than South Koreans next door because of malnutrition. He remains plump with a Hitler haircut. “Great Leader” Vladimir’s Russian enemies are either shot down in the streets, poisoned, or have deadly “accidents.” Various experts have estimated that Vladimir has secreted over $30 billion in Swiss banks in case he ever retires after rehabbing Russia back into the most-powerful Soviet Union.   

“Great Leader” Donald hears strange voices most of the time while creating a universal tower of babble that threatens to explode and topple around 3 a.m. His constant lying and perfidy about coal miners is illustrative. Although he made the unemployment of coal miners a major part of his campaign, this is what he really thought of them in a Playboy interview: “The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then his son. If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination—or whatever—to leave their mine. They don’t have it.” Incidentally, Trump’s budget plan has deep cuts in it for “clean coal” research. Actually the coal industry is in a steep decline, employing only 66,000 miners. As a comparison, Kohl’s department stores employ over 125,000 workers. With 71-year-old Great Leader Donald we have a choice of dementia, Alzheimer’s, mental instability such as malignant narcissism, or a very low IQ.  

Can Great Leaders Also Have Great Followers?     

I have always thought that climbing 29,029-foot Mt. Everest was a bit crazy just because it’s “there.” Maybe it’s the price of $65,000 to $100,000, depending upon whether you want a personal chef to cook your meals and prepare champagne breakfasts at the base camps. But crazy great leaders have crazy great followers. The climbing season has only three or four good days to climb because of the extreme weather in the Himalayas.   

This year 371 foreign climbers have paid the fees to climb and have hired about 430 Sherpa guides to help them stay alive. What is so special about climbing Everest when over 4,000 have done it since Edmund Hillary and his guide Tenzing Norgay first did it in 1953? So you are basking on the summit with 200 other climbers who have done it on the same day? Big human deal. On one day in 2012 a photograph was taken of 600 climbers lined up on the mountain waiting to step on the summit. There is danger in climbing which may attract certain people, but is it a personal achievement? Eleven died attempting the climb in 2012.  

The Strange Case Of Charlie Card     

As scientific inquiry continues to strip religions of biblical and medieval psychobabble and supports the theme we humans are animals at the top of chain of being, God may not be dead but many religions are dying. The dispute among courts, doctors, parents, and religious leaders about whether 11-month-old Charlie Card of England should be allowed to die tends to bring out all the problems created by science and religion. Poor Charlie is the victim of a rare genetic disease called encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome recently discovered by medical researchers. Thought to be one of only16 babies in the world with this horrible rare disease, Charlie is blind, deaf, constantly suffers from seizures, and cannot move or breathe on his own. There is no known treatment. The London hospital and doctors treating Charlie say his condition is hopeless and want to withdraw life support. The parents object to the withdrawal, but European courts have jurisdiction over children and support the hospital’s decision.   

The Roman Catholic Church and Pope Francis, with their medieval teachings about pain, suffering, and natural death have offered to treat Charlie in a Vatican hospital. “Great Leader” Donald stuck his moronic tweets in the middle of the ethical, moral, and financial morass by agreeing with the Pope and offering “treatment!” Three courts have agreed that prolonging Charlie’s life would be “inhumane and unreasonable.” And so the battle between science and religion continues. We didn’t have to worry about such genetic syndromes until the 20th Century. We could always say before that God did it.  

What Will The Role Of Women Be In the Last Half Of The 21st Century?

     As science and human reason remove large chunks of belief from all of the world’s great religions and many of the lesser, it will be fascinating to see if the role of women will change much by 2050. The fact that the Republican Party, the American Taliban, picked 13 white male senators in dark suits to determine the party’s position on health care had to be the latest insult to all females in this country. Evidently female health is not important enough to get women’s input on uteruses, vaginas, pregnancies, and post-partum blues. Most of the Christian religions as well as Islam treat women as second-class citizens born to serve men.   

A recent anti-discrimination case in Israel is indicative of the long fight women have to make to be thought equal to men. Holocaust survivor Renee Rabinowitz was asked to move seats on an El Al flight because an ultra-orthodox Jewish man refused to sit next to her. This has been a common practice in Israel and even for some American airlines when ultra-orthodox men are passengers. The men want to make sure they do not have inadvertent contact while sitting next to a woman. Perish the thought. They don’t seem to mind other physical “contacts” because they tend to have extremely large families while they have their wives assume the role of family breadwinner--while they practice their all-consuming religion. In fact, they study text so much as they sit and rock back and forth, most have to get spectacles when young because their eyes have to change focus so much. Religion strikes again.  

Another Religious Group That Doesn’t Value Women     

Like American Republicans, the Afghanistan Taliban places little value on women. In the province of Ghor there were 118 registered cases of violence against women according to Fawzia Koofi, head of the Afghanistan Women’s Rights Commission. All of the cases involved violence by men against women. Not a single man has been arrested in the 118 acts of violence, and most cases involve honor killings of wives, daughters, and women in the community. Most honor killings are not reported to authority. This is a typical case described in a New York Times article by Mujib Mashal and Zahra Nader: “A teenage girl, Rukshana, who was forced into an arranged marriage, was later caught fleeing with a lover. She was buried waist deep in dirt and stoned to death by a gang of men the government said were Taliban. The male lover was flogged and set free. From her waist up the rocks had ripped her body and some pieces of stone had made it inside her ribs according to her mother. The blood would not stop. Twelve women helped her mother prepare her for burial.” In honor killings some women are just taken out and shot to death by a family member. No wonder some religious Muslims end up as suicide bombers and members of ISIS. It’s a cruel world out there.