For me Kim Jong Ill and Vaclav Haval represented the end of one era and the beginning of another. Kim Jong Ill, much like Moammar Gaddafi, was one of the last dictators to have built a cult of personality. He was an echo of the era of Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini. I believe that North Korea will eventually be brought kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century. Hopefully not too many North Koreans will die in that process. Vaclav Haval, by contrast, was a beacon showing the world the way forward, towards a new era of true democracy, and a cultural renaissance. The Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movements can point to Vaclav Haval as one of their inspirations. If only all the revolutions could be as bloodless as the Velvet Revolution.
Time is moving more quickly it seems. Perhaps because I am older, or perhaps it is because we are approaching the singularity that Ray Kurzweil talks about. Things are happening more quickly than I can stay on top of it. What does this have to do with Kim Jong Ill and Vaclav Haval? It is relevant because it had seemed that North Korea was a nation frozen in time. Kim Jong Ill would always be there, a bad actor giving the same absurd performance year after year after year. And then it ends, and North Korea is not ready. Vaclav Haval’s wise presence served as a mentor for all freedom loving activists worldwide, and we weren’t ready for him to go. He was a genuine Renaissance man. Kim Jong Ill was a Renaissance man wanna-be. The era of looking for larger than life cult figures to guide us is dying out. The future is uncertain, and it feels like it is up to regular folks just like us. And I don’t think we are ready. We just want to go to bed, if you are like me. I have so much I want to do, and I just feel tired. But as the saying goes, you can sleep when you’re dead. I always thought it was a stupid expression. I have a tendency to believe that you are more aware after death than before, but that is the subject of another blog.