Noah Stepro

Noah Stepro

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Life Lessons from North Korea

The recent hubabulu with North Korea hacking Sony Pictures, releasing copies of current films, damaging emails, publishing financial document and threatening US theaters that premier the film has created a tense situation in the entertainment world in the last few weeks. The Interview, in which Seth Rogen and James Franco infiltrate and kill the Supreme Ruler of the most closed society on earth seems almost like a work of fan fiction for the Bush doctrine…and that is probably how N. Korea should take it…a real life version of Team America viewed by folks like Rogen.

Now the last time I checked, post college (or college dropout) stoners lacked in militant organization and violent insurrection…semper fi is not the first thing they say when they are ordering pizza at 1am. The threat The Interview posses towards N. Korea’s national security is about as powerful as a SNL skit. But when you live in isolation and fear, molehills quickly become mountains.


In a recent conversation with some parents of adolescent and grown children we broached the subject of honesty with your kids. One parent’s approach to honesty with their kids was continual support, encouragement and positive reinforcement with little to no reality…i.e. “you are good at everything and everyone loves you”. The other parent was equally supportive and encouraging but tried to balance that with a healthier dose of honesty. They would tell their kids when they were being obnoxious or level with them about their strengths and weaknesses. The result was that the first group of children group up feeling very loved and very sensitive to any criticism…making it harder for them to fold into society where you will have performance reviews, fights and failures. The second group felt equal loved, but a little more equipped to deal with real life by having a bit tougher skin. Interestingly fear was a major component to this first group who tried to shelter their children…they tend not to handle things too well.


What does all that have to do with N. Korea? The dictatorship of Kim Jong Un is a macro specimen of what happens to us individually when we live in isolation and fear. Hacking the picture studios and threatening to attack U.S. theaters seems like…an overreaction, but they’ve gone a step further this week. Apparently the Korean government has issued threats against the White House, Pentagon and the U.S. mainland. This is equivalent to the rich kid who’s parents bought friendships and popularity trying out for a sports team in college, being told he isn’t good enough and then threatening to get the coach fired…oh wait and then burn down the school and poison the local drinking water.

When we isolate and shut of from criticism we become devastatingly unaware of our real strengths and weaknesses. When we win popularity through coercion or bribery insecurity lives in the recesses of our personality…making us more irrational and desperate. When we make fear the determining factor for our decision process paranoia and control take over. So parents take a note…a healthy dose of reality for your children could keep them from becoming the next totalitarian dictator…unless that is what you’re going for.

11-2-14 #WhyChurch: Reconciliation

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Reconciliation is the primary job of the Church, learning to live at peace with each other as we are reconciled with God #WhyChurch

Limping through Life

On Halloween night + cotton socks + wooden steps + my generally clumsy nature = my right middle toe either breaking or being severely jammed. I got up the next morning to jogging, like ya do, and to my great sadness found that I could barely walk. 

I took a break from the routine for several days and then tried to “power walk” my dog…this proved to be quite the disaster which climaxed with me yelling some expletives and falling on to Russel (my Queensland Heeler) who I’m sure was yelling out expletives in doggy language. 

Over the next couple of weeks I tried to rehabilitate myself back to full foot health by continued long distance walking with the occasional bike ride. But a funny thing happened…actually it was quite tragic…my foot got worse

Now, you might be reading and have much great wisdom and foresight than me, many people do. However I was too dense to realize that the more I tried to use my broken foot the worse it became. As I walked in a gimpish manner I found myself developing a limp and walking with my foot at an angle to compensate for the pain. Realizing this, I began reflecting on life – I suppose this happens from time to time when you become incapacitated. Have I developed non-physical limps?

The pain in my foot cause me to walk differently…the greater the pressure, the greater the pain and the more pronounced my dysfunction became. Have I done this in other areas of my life? When I received a wound from a friend or superior did I begin limping with my spirit. Did I suddenly act differently (indifferent, calloused  cynical) in order to compensate for the pain and deal with the pressure? These are great questions to ask your self…do you limp? In your marriage/relationship? In the way you deal with children? Authority? Language? Humor? Vulnerability? Honesty? Ambition?

It took some illness and Thanksgiving holiday for me to stop trying to “fix” my foot and just rest. Often we try and fix what is wrong through self-medication  busyness, positive reinforcement or coping mechanisms…but that actually just deforms us and makes us “walk” differently. What we need is healing, and healing only comes with space. For me, allowing God to work in my life, straitening out the crooked paths, has required many things, but the most important have been honesty and openness (space and time). If we do not allow ourselves to seek that healing beyond our own means, we will continue through life with these limps. 

What starts of small, usually has serious repercussions when time and pressure are applied. Just think about a small back adjustment…over a life time it turns into crippling disability…imagine what happens to the soul when bitterness, hurt and resentment fester for a lifetime?