It’s In the Game

For those of you not interested in gaming in general, read on.  This post is not about gaming, though it was inspired by a game.

Far Cry 4 released last week.  It’s an expansive game wherein you are attempting to help a group of freedom fighters topple a dictator.  There is a radio station broadcasting in zones where you have liberated the radio towers.  The local DJ has a show called “Radio Free Kyrat”.  Whoever wrote the script for this character is a genius.  He is funny, witty, insightful even.  And it is the insightful commentary that led me to write today.

I find that I am often inspired by seemingly insignificant events.  Facebook posts, news stories, song lyrics, and yes…even events in video games.  Many things make me think, and when I think long and hard enough about a subject, eventually I write about it.  So here we go.

The DJ is speaking about the primary bad guy, Pagan Min, dictator of a place in the Himalayas called Kyrat.  He wonders aloud if Pagan built a statue of himself because Kim Jong Un has a statue of himself.  He asks if there is a “keeping up with the Joneses” for the evil subset of the 1%.  Does pagan have a golden toilet because Kim does?  Does he feel he must shit in a golden bowl to demonstrate his power?

These things got me thinking about the reality of life in the real world, where men build statues of themselves, and shit in golden toilets.  Where it is not enough to have enough, or even to have more than enough.  But, some among us must carry the excess to a level that makes any rational person looking at the situation simply shake their head and exclaim, “What the fuck!?”

As anyone who has read this blog in the past is aware, I am a capitalist.  I am all for making money.  More money is better than less money.  Rich is better than poor.  Period.  I don’t care what any bleeding heart tells you.  People who say money can’t buy happiness are generally broke, and mostly miserable.  And not one of them would turn down a million dollars if you offered it to them.

But there is a line somewhere.  Perhaps there is a different line for different people, but there must be some place that virtually everyone would agree is too far.  When you commission statues of yourself… you’re probably on the wrong side of that line.

It is worth noting that the reference made is to Kim Jong Un.  This guy had his uncle executed for, among other things, failing to clap enthusiastically enough at speeches.  He lives in palatial surroundings, and is nearly worshiped (though how much is genuine and how much is coerced is up for debate) by his people.  Whom he starves…and executes…and tortures.  Which he has in common with others of his like.  In places like Cuba, Venezuela, Iraq, Somalia…and dozens of other places where small men struggle for significance, power and prestige.

It is simply an accepted fact of life, and always has been.  But, one wonders how it got this way.

How do the masses, the billions, accept the fact that we live on a planet where people are tortured, murdered, raped, fed in to plastic shredders, etc., by a very small group of very evil men?  How is it that the notion to do these heinous things enters in to the minds of men in the first place?

How can a man who can look out his window at a pitch black country full of starving people, and spend his nation’s money on statues and golden toilets?

If you’ve never seen this, here is what South Korea and North Korea look like at night.  Here’s a hint:  North Korea is the almost entirely black area between the two lit up regions:

The Korean Peninsula at night.

The Korean Peninsula at night.


This what Kim Jong Un sees, while staring at his statue, crapping on a golden toilet, and having people executed for not clapping enthusiastically at every word he says.

But, he is not alone or unprecedented.  The real question is, how do the soldiers that give these types of men the power that they wield sleep at night?  Another question is, how do nations of millions find themselves under the control of a few hundred people, or one?  How does some soldier in the North Korean military look around at his poor, dark, starving nation and continue to follow the orders of the men who made it that way?  How do the people of nations all over the world find themselves under the heel of tin-pot dictators and warlords?  How is it that these men rise to power?

How is it that the world accepts their existence, and the international community accepts their presence?

And last but not least, what is it that corrupts the hearts of men so completely that they become capable of bringing unimaginable suffering to millions of people so that they can advance themselves personally?

Comments are welcome.



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