October 14, 2010
Last Saturday, Patty and I literally stopped what we were doing to watch the TV news. NBC was showing footage of an incredible North Korean military parade. The troops marched with unbelievable precision. As an old Marine, I was impressed. Then came the tanks, missiles, missile launchers—an awesome display of military power.
Then there was the eye-popping celebration in Pyongyang's May Day stadium—thousands of performers in dazzling, multicolor uniforms, performing intricate dances. The stadium was packed with people holding up different-colored squares, which formed beautiful patterns in the stands.
And there, in the stadium box, were Kin Jong Il and his purported successor, Kim Jong Un, beaming with pride.
The news also carried video of limousine upon limousine pulling up to the dictator's palace; people in exquisite finery.
But then a Western reporter was able to slip away from the stadium. And we got to see the real North Korea just a few blocks away: Squalor. Rubbish in the streets. Buildings without electricity.
I couldn't help but remember a trip I made to the Soviet Union in 1990, as part of an official U. S. delegation to visit Perm camp 35, the most notorious of all the GULAG prisons. The KGB put us up at a government hotel in Moscow that could rival the finest four-star hotels anywhere. Remember, 1990 was a time when the Soviet Union was crumbling. The communist regime was shaking in its boots. But the Soviets were lavishing on us the very best Communism had to offer.
Then we flew to Perm from the Moscow airport, which was as decrepit, filthy, and every bit as primitive as the worst third-world facility. And the city of Perm was a nightmare, desolate, crumbling. The people were gaunt and ashen, wearing tattered clothing.
What I experienced in the Soviet Union, and what we saw on TV last weekend from North Korea, that is the face of tyranny.
Every Utopian vision—whether it's Marx's workers' paradise or the modern nanny state—leads to tyranny. This is what happens every time you deny people freedom, even in the name of giving them everything they want.
Now as Christians, we live by revealed truth. We are rightly suspicious of all the utopian promises being made by politicians on the right or the left.
That's because revealed truth tells us that this is a fallen world. And in this fallen world, government was instituted by God to restrain evil and promote justice. As government exerts its power beyond those proper limits, human freedom—a gift from God at the moment of our creation—is squelched.
But in a democracy, the people still have a say. That is, those who get engaged in the political process. Those who VOTE.
So, what should we Christians be doing this election season? Come to Colson Center.org and watch my Two-Minute Warning to find out. And I would urge you to read my book God and Government--first published as Kingdoms in Conflict in the 80s. It's been used as a textbook, and it's standard teaching on the right boundaries between religion and politics. You can get it at the Colson Center bookstore.
Some people are saying that we Christians should take a vacation from politics. Well, I've seen the dark side of the world where people can't vote or exercise their rights. Don't tell me we should stay out of the political process.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.