Jimmy Carter is a kind-hearted and sincere man who, partly because of his own honesty and gentleness, cannot seem to believe in the dishonesty and brutality of others. He is a Christian who does not believe people can be evil. This naivety made him a bad president, and makes him a poor judge of foreign policy and a dangerously incompetent commentator on social issues.
Michael Wiess in the UK Telegraph is right to point out just how destructive some of Carter’s comments and actions have been. But I cannot get distressed at Carter’s reported sending of condolences to Kim Jong Il’s son Kim Jong Un. Jong Il was a vile dictator. We may be glad his reign is over. But his family still suffers grief at his death, and it is right that we condole with them.
Nor can I share in the sentiments expressed by John McCain, for whom I have considerable respect:
“The world is a better place now that Kim Jong Il is no longer in it,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement after the North Korean leader died, reportedly of a heart attack. “For more than six decades, people in North Korea have been consigned to lives of dire poverty and cruel oppression under one of the most totalitarian regimes the world has ever known. I can only express satisfaction that the Dear Leader is joining the likes of Qaddafi, Bin Laden, Hitler, and Stalin in a warm corner of hell.”
I hope not. None of us is worthy of salvation. If Qaddafi and Kim Jong Il don’t deserve to be in heaven, well, no more do I. Jesus came to save them as much as to save me, and if he loved them enough to go to the cross for them, then I cannot rejoice at their deaths, nor hope for damnation for them.
That is not to deny the harm they have done, and the immense suffering they have caused. My prayer for the family of Kim Jong Il is that they will be comforted in their time of sorrow, and that both the sorrow and the comfort will lead to a change of heart, then to changes in policy and eventually to freedom for North Korea.