Cow 1 is not Cow 2
I recently read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It wasn’t an easy book to read. Her story of WWII veteran Louie Zamperini’s atrocious and brutal treatment by the Japanese guards in POW camps sent razors up my spine. I wanted to enter the story to stop those guards:” Don’t do this. You are more human than this. Besides, you’re going to let the world hate us Japanese all over again.” In the book, the man of Honor was Mr. Zamperini who sought and found forgiveness and devotes his life to a world without war.
Almost a year ago, on February 24th, I posted the following review of The Last Train from Hiroshima by Charles Pellegrino on a site that carried an excellent review of this book: http://avomnia.wordpress.com.
…”In 1945, I heard my parents discuss the death of their families in Hiroshima. A child, I didn’t know the significance of that day, a day that my ancestors were all destroyed.
I later wrote:
We cut the chrysanthemum
Off its stalk
And left it naked in the sun.
(from The Enemy Wore My Face)
In 1989, Noriyo, a third grader from Hiroshima entered my classroom. They had moved to Hawaii because her grandmother was dying from cancer. She was a child during the bombing, and her doctor had advised: Go to Hawaii where the weather is sunny for the last few months of her life. I wrote the following poem for Noriyo:
44 Years Later
a dark mushroom cloud
follows me across the Pacific
into my classroom.
forgive us, Noriyo
( from The Enemy Wore My Face)
In 1995, Dr. Jiro Nakano edited and translated 100 tanka poems written by survivors (hibakusha) of Hiroshima in a book called Outcry From the Inferno. I was deeply honored to be one of the English editors.
In 2010, I read Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima.
Nothing, not the discussions in our kitchen, my poems, the editing I did to Outcry From the Inferno, nothing is more real than this book. One of the main survivor’s tanka is included in the Inferno book. One of the survivors bears the same name of my mother’s family. Mr. Pellegrino, thank you for taking me back to where it happened…”
A few weeks ago, Charles Pellegrino recommended the following book: Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness by Takashi “Thomas” Tanemori.
Mr. Tanemori was a young child when the bomb fell on Hiroshima. His story is as brutally painful as both Pellegrino’s and Hillenbrand’s books. He was ostracized and left on the streets by his own grandparents and his villagers because orphans were considered nothings. They were treated like lepers. His escape to America continued his dehumanization His story lifts the masks of both the Japanese and the Americans long after end of the war. Throughout his journey, he upheld his father Code of Honor and the name Tanemori, and sought and found peace and forgiveness. Today, blind from radiation, he heads the Silkworm Peace Institute in Berkeley, California.
I posted the following review on Tanemori’s book on Amazon.com:
…”Tanemori-san, Mr. Tanemori,
If I were to meet you I would fill your glass with the best sake ́.
Your story took me beyond flower arrangements, tea ceremonies, silk kimonos and koto music of my ancestral land. It also took me into the blind spots of my birth land of hope, humanity and equality here in America.
How one man could have suffered and still stand up to honor his father’s name, and to strive for world peace and love of brotherhood are indeed awe-inspiring. You remind me once again that we need to rise above all cultural, political, religious, racial and social beliefs if they begin to reduce our own humanity toward our fellow human beings. There is a flaw somewhere when our own beliefs and practices in the name of religion and culture dehumanize others. Thank you for not only telling us your story but for making a difference in at least one reader that forgiveness and love of humanity must be preserved by being practiced by each of us.
War does not end. War does not end with peace treaties or withdrawal of arms. War does not end.
Perhaps someday, the word “forgiveness” will disappear from our vocabulary when there is nothing to forgive in a world created by true humanists like yourself ( and men like Pellegrino and Zamperini). I took your “butterfly” and your “blade of grass” and wrote the following:
A white butterfly
Flits from flower to flower
After a rainfall.
a blade of grass bends,
raindrops on its back, then springs
in the noonday sun…”