Knowledge is Power

I was recently asked by one of the pastors at my church, "If you could do anything in the world, what one thing would you do for Jesus?"

Jeez. That's a daunting question. What if I don't pick the right thing?!? Not really having a clue on what one thing I would do with unlimited resources and absolute freedom, I answered something along the lines of getting every orphaned and abused child adopted into a loving family where they were given hope for their future.

As someone who is passionate about adoption, not as a last option, but a first...I still think this would be a beautiful thing to do.

However, my answer has changed.

I have just spent the afternoon reading my March/April volume of Foreign Affairs and I feel myself seething a bit. Most notably, the essay on North Korea riled me up. Did you know that between the years of 1996 to 1999 nearly one million people died in that country because of famine? I was graduating high school in America celebrating at my favorite gluttonous restaurant, Olive Garden, and they were finishing the burial of a million people who died because they were simply hungry?

What makes me angry is that this was an avoidable crisis ignored by their own government. But when you live in a country where you have to have a permit to travel and leave your own home, where grain is not available to the public through a store or market because it has been made illegal by the government, and you are denied access to truth via propaganda driven, government controlled media, and a self-imposed knowledge blockade in your do you know starvation isn't the only way? How do you know there is any other way at all? You don't. You have been lied to. And you are dying and being slaughtered with the permission of your own leaders.

In his essay, Staying Alive, Professor Andrei Lankov from Kookmin University in Seoul South Korea said about the famine, "Trained under the old system (Stalin-esq communism), deprived of opportunities to organize, and ignorant about the outside world, North Korea's starving farmers did not rebel. They just died."

And their government, led by communist dictator Kim Jong Il, who so desperately clings and hangs onto power by denying his citizens knowledge of the outside world, watched it happen.

They just died.

This isn't a story from the history book annals. This was less than ten years ago. And it is not uncommon, in fact it is happening right this very minute as the rebel Junta military in control of the government in Myanmar deprives millions of citizens of their basic human rights to eat, drink clean water, receive medical attention, and to restore basic sanitation to their demolished country. They don't even know we are there trying to help them. They don't know.

Denying societies and human beings access to the outside world, essentially denying them the freedom of information and education, is the worse atrocity that can be committed against a human being.

TV's, internet, radio, books, newspapers, and journalists are banned by governments all over the world who are seeking to dehumanize and control people under their rigid religious, governmental or militaristic ideologies . Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, The Taliban, and Mynamar's Junto are the most common regimes we are aware of, but there are many, many more.

I serve a God of truth, not ignorance. One cannot know the truth fully unless they have the freedom of knowledge. History will repeat itself, wars will rage on, poverty will persevere, and human dignity will continue to disintegrate before our very eyes as long as the oppressed are not given access to knowledge.

Knowledge is power.

If I could do one thing for Jesus?

I would give every person in the world a computer, internet, and a book. And then I would allow them to learn in freedom.