by Marcia Jensen
If I ever get to Heaven and I get a chance to speak face to face with the Almighty, I’m going have a lot of questions. But, one of the most important questions will be, “why was I born an American?”
Recently, I saw an interview on 60 Minutes and I just can’t get it out of my head. It was with a young man who had been born and raised in a North Korean prison camp.
These prisons exist to punish anyone who opposes the totalitarian communist regime that enslaves the nation of North Korea. And not just to punish those who commit the “offenses” but to punish the second and third generations, as well.
Even Stalin, with his purges, and Mao, with his cultural revolution, weren’t that brutal.
Until the age of 23, this young man had known no other life except that inside the prison camp. His parents had not been allowed to live together and there was no family life.
Along with everyone else, he had existed on a diet of cabbage and rice and had never spent a day without being hungry. He had no idea how people on the outside lived and just assumed that everyone else in the world lived exactly as he did.
He saw nothing but long days of drudgery and cruelty occasionally punctuated by trips to an open field where the prison inmates were forced to witness the executions of those who either had tried to escape, had aided an escape or who had knowledge of an escape and hadn’t reported it.
He admitted that, as horrible as these executions were, they at least gave him a break from the monotony of his every-day life. Two of these executions were of his mother and brother, which he described in an eerily dispassionate manner and later admitted that he had been the one who turned them in for allegedly planning an escape.
Then one day, his life changed. A new prisoner came to the camp. He regaled the young man with stories of life on the outside--things he’d never dreamed of and foods he’d never tasted. Just the idea of not being hungry was beyond his imagination.
Before long, the two planned an escape. One day, they both ran for the fence. The friend attempted to claw through the barbed wire and was immediately electrocuted. The young man crawled over the top of his friend and, for the first time in his life, he was free. He managed to slip across the Chinese border and eventually found his way to South Korea. Today, seven years later, he travels the world relating his shocking story.
Is it possible there are people actually born into a nightmare like this? In this day and age, could people really live this way?
And what about me? I was born into an intact family and raised in a large home where I had more food than I could eat, more clothes than I could wear and more “stuff” than I knew what to do with.
I was blessed with a wonderful education and granted a million choices with what I could do with my life after graduation. I can go anywhere I want, do anything I want and say anything I want. Most important of all, I can openly worship God and do it according the desires of my own heart.
Why was I blessed like this? Why was I born in a country where those who live in poverty are richer than 85 percent of the rest of the world? Why was I born with a heritage and a Constitution that guarantee me more freedom and opportunity than any other place on earth?
Over our nation’s history, we have suffered through many crucibles and, I fear, will suffer through many more. But, this country is a miracle! I hope we will recognize this truth and strive with all our hearts to preserve and protect it.
Why was I born an American? I don’t know. But, I sure hope I get a chance to find out some day.