Every year at this time, since I began blogging, I’ve commemorated Pearl Harbor with a photo of the disaster. This year, I can’t bring myself to feature the photo. Recently, whenever I think of Japan I think of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Necessary from a military standpoint? Yes! Unthinkably tragic from a human standpoint? YES!
We need to remember history, mainly because we could benefit from learning. History could provide foresight and wisdom. But it’s been shown again and again that people do not learn from history. We may remember history, but we simply play it again.
As Christians, we are commanded to forgive. Forgiveness is the very core of our faith, and the reason why we are standing here rather than decimated and plowed under by God’s wrath. Yet there are historical characters whom I cannot forgive in my fallen humanity: especially Hitler, for his atrocities to God’s people the Jews. And Stalin.
And, going way back—Oliver Cromwell. I read a lot of documentaries on Irish history. I’m currently experiencing a formidable challenge knowing that I have to forgive the British Empire, not only for its mindless brutality in Ireland but for centuries of power lust and domination in India and Africa. My husband, always the wit, suggests that I gather up all my English tea and dump it in the harbor a mile from our home.
However when I think England I want to think tea and English country gardens—along with Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Keats, the Brontës, Thomas Hardy, John Galsworthy and other authors too numerous to name. I want to think our precious English language, and English theatre which (in my opinion) is second to none.
When I think Russia I want to remember ballet and Tchaikowsky who, tortured as he was in his personal life, left the world a legacy of hauntingly beautiful music. When I think Germany I want to recall Bach and Beethoven—and the tradition of gemütlichkeit reflected by German Americans in the cultural history of Wisconsin. When I think Japan I want to focus on centuries of exquisite art traditions: painting, poetry, gardening.
Every nation on earth has its shame as well as its pride. Individuals are born sinners. National shame is sin multiplied. America is not exempt from national sin. Just ask the decendants of the Cherokee and other Native Nations who walked the Trail of Tears from the deep South to Oklahoma and points West. Or ask the descendants of slaves.
There is only One Remedy for sin, and that was accomplished for us at Calvary. God’s Remedy for sin came to us as a baby, born in a crude and humble manger some 2000 plus years ago. He is coming again! “And He shall reign forever and ever!”
Meanwhile I will remember December 7th, 1941. Remember, but move on!
Margaret L. Been, ©2011
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