A few days ago one of the most powerful and deranged men in the world passed from this life to the next. Kim Jong Il was hailed by many as a power crazed lunatic out for world domination or at least the complete subjugation of his own people. And although he was obsessed with completely isolating his nation from the world and continuing the “war” with the United States, he did have a funny side. The man loved musicals….that’s right, Kim Jong Il loved musical theatre. I can almost see the little dictator (who for his people was always a very demure and solemn figure) cracking up at Rogers & Hammerstein or Gilbert & Sullivan productions played out before him. It almost makes you wander, was he all bad?
I mean what makes a person want to be bad? Why do people want to conquer and enslave others? Why do people want to murder and oppress those around them? I have heard before that most of the time these horrible atrocities carried out in adult hood are the result of tragedies (or really bad indoctrination) that occurred in one’s childhood. It kind of brings to mind Jesus word’s about a “millstone”. I know often I find myself hurting for these people who are so committed to violence against others…how broken must their world be? Where do they find a sense of joy or peace?
Recently my wife and I have been having to engage with certain systems that are in place in our government for the protection of children. All of this is coming about because of our adoptive process for our oldest, Dakota. And I realize that these systems are put in place for the protection of children, but all to often we lose the children in the process. To put it another way…as we were about to go to a meeting the other day I said to my wife, “Do you ever feel like we are just playing grown-up?” I mean think about it. All of sudden we become a certain age and it is ok for us to make decisions regarding the welfare of other people (especially children)? We all of a sudden are qualified to fully weigh all the particularities in order to know what is best for those around us? Take this to the next step…think about leaders, administrators, financiers, government officials…
And underneath it all is a kid who just wants to get along with others in the school yard. You know, once upon a time the world was our school yard. We were God’s children fully and we got to frolic and play in this amazing garden free of pestilence, violence and death. Maybe that’s why the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:2-4 resonate with me so much. “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’.”
I think all to often we get excited about playing grown-up and we forget the school yard. We all of a sudden think the decisions we make are more important and justified in how they affect people because we are older. I kind of see why Peter Pan never wanted to grow up. In Captain Hook he saw people like Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Adolfo Hitler, Pot Pol and others who forgot what it meant to be a kid and love others other around them for the children they truly were.
I think Jesus always wants us to change into the children he sees us becoming…children of God.