On the humanity of politicians

Opinion by Josh Cho
Nov. 15, 2016, 1:55 a.m.

Korea is embroiled in some serious drama.

And you — average American reader — probably don’t care. I wouldn’t care, if I weren’t Korean.

America has its own political drama to deal with.

But lend me an ear for a moment, because this is not about Korea nor politics. It doesn’t even require empathy on your part, for I won’t try to guilt-trip you.

This story is about seeing humans as they are. Presidents, pedophiles, celebrities, psychopaths. We are all humans. We forget that fact sometimes; we have the tendency to dignify or petrify humanity.

And regarding this Korean political scandal, you are an average, uninformed reader. That is perfect for gathering insights. Your lack of information is actually an advantage.

In these overly complex political scandals, too much information deters you from seeing what is real.

Korea is in some serious drama.

Background: Our president (Ms. Park) is the daughter of the former dictator of Korea, Mr. Park. He changed the constitution multiple times and reigned for way too many years, ultimately to be assassinated in 1979.

That is a serious red flag: The daughter of a dictator running a democracy. But Mr. Park — the dictator — is a controversial figure, because he actually did some good things, like getting rid of corruption and making economic progress.

But he was a dictator. He assassinated people, restricted freedom, etc. Typical dictator stuff.

Our current president, Ms. Park, grew up as the daughter of this dictator. And she rose to power couple years back.

That’s some Korean history. But let’s focus on the humans.

I see in this story a lonely girl. An isolated daughter of a dictator. A girl who lived in the “White House” for most of her youth. A girl with no friends. No spiritual or emotional support.

Actually, I lie, there was a figure of spiritual support. But that figure disappeared early in the girl’s life. Her mother, the first lady, was assassinated early in her youth.

So imagine this. A young girl born as the daughter of a dictator. No friends. High expectations. And the only spiritual support in her life assassinated.

What kind of screwed-up thought patterns must have gone through her head? Could she have had a normal childhood? A normal psyche?

Possibly. But given my understanding of humans, I would posit an extremely low probability.

And if this is true, and the scars are still there, then perhaps the current president is psychologically unhealthy. It doesn’t matter if she is the president; she is still a human being.

But the story isn’t over. There is more data to cover to aid our understanding of the situation. And I haven’t even covered the scandal yet.

So this young girl lost her mother. And in her absence comes a new spiritual support: Mr. Choi. Think of him as… sketchy Scientology-dude pastor. He founded a religion — the second coming of Buddha or something.

Anyhow, the sketchy dude (who also happened to have some political power) approached the young girl in grief and said that he can relay the messages of her mother (yes, the dead mother). He presented himself as the new spiritual support.

She needed that spiritual support, so they became very close, to a point where the dictator couldn’t keep them apart. There are some rumors of highly intimate relations between them, as well.

Now all of this might sound crazy — you can relay the message of my dead mother! Yes! Please be my spiritual support!

Who would ever do that?

Well, a psychologically unstable young adult. A girl who grew up isolated and had her mother assassinated at youth.

Emotionally, she was probably grasping at straws. And anything, even some sketchy spiritual influence, was necessary for healing.

One can imagine this young girl becoming president, and how this sort of dependency can lead to corruption. Especially when the sketchy dude appoints his daughter as the next sketchy spiritual support.

So even when the young girl — Ms. Park — became president, she continuously sought spiritual support. To the daughter of the sketchy dude, she handed over top-secret government material including meeting notes, policy drafts, speeches.

And the new spiritual support (the daughter of Scientology-guy) used this leverage for corruption. This got ridiculous to the point of people without credibility, as in gigolos and music producers, assuming high positions of power, just because of this leverage.

I see here not some corruption, but a lonely human being with only just one friend. The president, sadly, had no emotional support. And the presidency is high stress. Everyone is at her jugular. So this probably made her rely on sketchy people even more. Especially if they were messengers of her long-lost mother.

Sadness. That is all I feel. Humans doing human things. And if only we saw each other as humans, we might have noticed earlier.

Let’s switch gears to the American president.

I presume that Obama, among other things, is scared. His term is ending. In terms of his life trajectory, it’s only downhill from here.

“How will I live a good life after my term? How will I contribute to humanity?”

These are probably the questions he is asking himself. These must be uncertain and scary questions. The fall from the summit is long and painful.

I hope Barack has enough emotional support around him to get him through the long fall. And may he soar again!

That was potentially extremely disrespectful. POTUS is not someone to scoff at.

But denigration is not my intent.

Seeing reality is. Cutting through the fog of labels is. Simulating their inner consciousness is.

Real empathy is my intent. And real empathy neither dignifies nor petrifies humanity. Real empathy sees things as they are.

And presidents and pedophiles, celebrities and psychopaths, they are all humans. So let’s treat them as they are. Let’s see them as they are.

That hope of shared humanity is the real takeaway.

Contact Josh Cho at joshcho ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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