Saddened by Hate

Paper cranes prayers for peace. Peace Memorial...

Image via Wikipedia

I just read this post from a friend of mine on Facebook: “One of the political sites that I go to just posted a slew responses from people on FB to the Japanese earthquake saying, in effect, that it’s payback for Pearl Harbor. How awful can some people be? Sometimes I just don’t understand people.”

At first I was speechless, but now I need to write.

I then went over to amblerangel’s post to see if she had any more updates, and found a comment from another blogger asking if Japan was a communist country? (NO, it is not) If the US knew about Japan’s nuclear reactors (Yes,  the government did) and commenting that it might be a good thing that the reactors are being destroyed.

Now, I realize that comment may have been innocent and simply from lack of knowledge, but it made me angry, so now I need to write. I don’t even know if I can clearly express what I am feeling, but I’m going to try.

I apologize in advance if this offends anyone, but I cannot stand back and view words that come from lack of knowledge or hate anymore. I wish I could write this with only words of love, but sometimes our language fails us. Just know, that my only hope for this world is that we recognize that our mutual survival (and the survival of the earth itself) depends on us finding a way past hate.

Flashback #1, Hiroshima, Japan.

I spent the day wandering through the Peace Park and noticed the strings of thousands of colorful paper cranes piled up everywhere with school groups laying more all around and taking pictures, cheery smiles on their faces. I was unsure of the meaning until I came to the statue of Sadako, the base of which was nearly buried in the bright pieces of color. Sadako died of cancer caused radiation poisoning after the bombing of Hiroshima. As she lay in the hospital she started folding a thousand paper cranes in the hopes that if she reached a thousand she would live. She never made it, but her school friends folded the rest for her and raised the money to create a statue commemorating her to be displayed in the Peace Park.

That story stayed with me, and when Nathan and I got married we folded (with the help of others)  a thousand paper cranes as part of our decorations and invitations–a symbol of love, of hope and of peace.

That day in Hiroshima I witnessed the remnants of war, the shadows of bodies burned forever into stone. I watched the videos of lives devastated by the decision to drop a single bomb. I rang the bell representing peace and prayed that nothing like this would ever happen again.

But the most powerful moment was when I sat in a tea house and a Japanese man approached me. He said, “I am sorry that we made you drop the bomb on us. Please forgive us.”  He was apologizing to me for the senseless destruction caused by my country! I didn’t know how to respond. So later I wrote in my journal, and cried.

Flashback #2, Kyushu, Japan

A wonderful Japanese  family took me and another friend on vacation to an onsen (hot springs) in Kyushu. We stayed in a traditional Japanese hotel, complete with tatami mats and futons pulled out of closets for us at night. We ate incredible sashimi and sushi, including fugu (blowfish) a treat that I didn’t know about until after I ate it and felt the tingle of what can be poisonous on my lips. The fish melted in my mouth. We soaked in tubs that offered various experiences to help keep us healthy, including mud baths and carrot infused water. We ate in a large room that also allowed for karaoke for anyone interested.

It happened to be the anniversary of the day we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. As we  sat having a meal an old Japanese man approached me and started speaking in angry tones, tears pouring down his wrinkled face. I did not speak much Japanese at the time, but the few words I was able to understand (and the translation provided by my hosts) made it clear. He was angry because I was American and because we had dropped the bomb and destroyed his family. As best I could, I apologized explaining that my family had nothing to do with that bomb or that decision, and that I too likely lost family during the war–to concentration camps throughout Europe. The family I was with defended me, and eventually the man walked away.

Inside my heart was broken. And today it hurts even more.

Nobody has Supremacy and Nobody Deserves Disaster

How dare anybody say that the events in Japan are payback?! While there are guilty people in every country, innocent people die for no reason–especially in war and natural disasters like this.  Statements like that make me ashamed to have been born in America. My birth here does not make me superior to anyone. Not even the people who are so blinded by their own superiority complex that they cannot recognize that we all should have equal rights in this world–including the right to live in peace, believing whatever we believe, and loving whoever we want to love.

How dare anybody assume that America has more right to controlling nuclear power than any other country? That is the responsibility of the world, not one single country. I have seen little evidence, recently, that the US has any moral supremacy that gives it any right to dictate how the rest of the world lives. We have made mistakes. Currently, this country is stripping rights away from people in ways that go against the very foundation and reason behind our country’s existence. Until we get our own act together, we have no right to judge or dictate how the rest of the world functions–or at least not from a position of superiority. (I’m sure this statement is going to put me on some list somewhere, but it is how I am feeling). As long as we allow hatred of difference and imagined superiority to rule our decision-making processes, we are no better than anyone else.

There is my political statement of the day. This is the message that comes from a broken heart that can no longer stand by and listen to words of hate. Now, the only thing I have left is tears.

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. CMSmith
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 11:25:07

    The Japanese already got payback in spades, all one has to do is read the book, Hiroshima.

    Thanks for the thoughtful and enlightening post.

    Reply

    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 13, 2011 @ 11:28:24

      Thanks for not finding it offensive. I remember reading Hiroshima in school. I never expected to visit the sight, and it just made the realities of that story be even more horrific. I’ve always been a pacifist, but now even more so.

      Reply

  2. nathan010
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 11:42:57

    It’s amazing what education can do. There is history and the history that others create and use as the base of education. Those that are guided by hate, prejudiced and fear are teaching others the same created histories or re interpretive histories to create a culture of their own. Sad.

    Reply

  3. lifeintheboomerlane
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 12:05:21

    Yet one more sad/scary example of people voicing opinions that spring from a complete misunderstanding of history/reality and worse, a complete kneejerk, self-protective reaction to whatever happens in the world. To reduce a natural disaster that is to payback for an event that happened 70 years ago makes me sick to my stomach. And unfortunately, I’m hearing more and more of this “payback” kind of mentality. It’s frightening.

    Reply

  4. Sandi Ormsby
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 12:54:52

    Visiting a site of destruction can have quite an impact, especially when there are those still alive to remember.

    My Opa, originally from France became a United States citizen and joined the military. This must have been toward the end of the war, as he was sent to a small German city, where he met my Oma. She worked for the mayor and he would see her ride a bike into work everyday. It was against the law to fratrenize with German citizens, let alone become romantically involved. They did, and he could have been sent to the “brig” but was sent home instead. Eventually, he got my oma to come to the U.S. And you know, years later, my Oma could never wrap her mind around Hitler had done. She remembers seeing him in a parade before coming to power and he was a “nice man” and very good speaker. She still blames the American Government thinking we “spun” that somehow to destroy them. I remember my mom and Oma getting into a very heated discussion about this subject. However, since I was like 10, and listening, my mom put a quick stop to that debate. My Oma’s mind couldn’t be changed.

    Meanwhile, while my Opa was fighting the Germans, my mom’s dad was fighting the Japanese. He lost friends at Iwo Jima and saw some pretty terrible things in combat. As a child, I recall him being very prejudiced against Japenese-American citizens. Of course, my mom’s best friend is Japenese. It took him a long time to accept that and wouldn’t come to our home. However, in the end, Robin’s sense of humor and intelligence won him over…there was hope…but you can’t completely erase war memories. I recall asking my grandfather, thinking he got over his issues “So, Japanese people are okay now?” and his gruff response, “No, just her.”

    But, that was a big deal. He was able to see past her face and into her heart. She was now a person, not the “race” responsible for deaths of his friends. Can you imagine, every time you see a particular race, only conjuring up images of your friends dying (blowing up into pieces- being stabbed/shot) before your eyes. Images you can’t erase? Sounds of people screaming in agony and you can’t help them?

    It was a great learning experience to witness my grandfather struggling with this and accepting and LOVING our family friend. War devestates everyone and affects generations. My mom explained this to me. “Understand where the person is coming from, but know you need to do this.”

    Those people making those offensive comments, perhaps they had grandfathers/uncles who experienced some terrible things and passed their judgements onto their offspring, and they didn’t have another parental person helping to “off-set” that hate with love and compasion for a new generation. It’s a shame.

    Reply

    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 13, 2011 @ 13:15:20

      I do understand the struggle, and I think your grandfather went through an amazing journey. At the same time, I don’t understand. Once I was having a conversation with a German friend of mine (this took place in Japan). I don’t quite recall why, but she said, “Why do you talk to me, aren’t you supposed to hate me? I’m German, you are Jewish.”

      I looked at her blankly for a moment because it would never have even occurred to me that I should automatically hate her. I asked, “Are you a Nazi?”

      She shook her head no. “Of course not!”

      “Do you blame all Jews for everything bad? Do you say bad things about Jewish people?”

      Again, she said “No!”

      “So then why should I hate you? If you start quoting Hitler as if he is your idol and wearing a swastika, then we might have issues. But we are friends.”

      And that was the end of that. Of course, I wasn’t in WWII. I didn’t see the atrocities myself. I have not faced people being blown up or killed in front of me. So maybe my reaction would be different in that instance. But to me, war is something that starts when a few people in power promote hate and use it to manipulate others into believing that there really is an us and them. Anyone who is not us is bad. I’ve always struggled with that and will continue to do so.

      That said, the most frustrating thing about the Japan thing is that we have been at peace since WWII. I can understand vets who fought during that world holding onto that hate, but I can’t understand passing it on when we have been at peace for so long.

      Reply

      • Sandi Ormsby
        Mar 13, 2011 @ 14:16:05

        It’s great that we see it that way and unfortunate other’s do not. I think “anonymous” comments, people spout off immature garbage, not thinking how it might affect others. They probably figure no one is reading their comment. I read one post, where someone was irritated with a hurtful comment about their writing, and they actually hunted down that person via phone and called them!

        It was such a great article, if I could just remember where I found it! The person apologized and said they didn’t realize anyone was even bothering to read their comments. I can’t find it! (darn) I think he worked for the paper.

        Anyway, in the future, if a person’s comment is not a well written argument and just plainly spewing “hate” – that blog author/editor should just remove that comment and/or block them from future comments via their dashboard.

        Reply

        • Lisa Kramer
          Mar 13, 2011 @ 15:56:57

          I didn’t go to the original source of this (I thought it would make my head explode if I did) so I don’t know if the comments were made anonymously or not. The comment on amblerangel’s site was not anonymous but simply naive (amblerangel handled it with much more grace than I think I would have been able to). Not that I have gotten many, but I have left dissenting comments on posts before because I believe people have a right to their opinion. That said, however, I will delete comments that simply spew hate, or at the very least reply before deleting.

          Reply

  5. Ashlee
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 15:47:08

    Payback?! Are you kidding me?! That is just an ignorant remark. My husband, a world war II history buff and avid lover of all things Japanese, would have a field day and probably a blown head gasket with that remark.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog yesterday. I really appreciate your comment!

    Reply

    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 13, 2011 @ 15:53:34

      Please don’t let him blow a gasket as I already did that for him. 😉 Thank you for the return visit. I will be visiting you often.
      Lisa

      Reply

  6. sparksinshadow
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 17:51:03

    Sometimes I torture myself, trying to figure out an answer to all this hate in the world, and then I have to stop because it hurts so much. All I ever come up with is to keep talking/writing as you have done here. After that, the haters would have to come on board for peace and acceptance to become reality. They don’t seem interested, but let’s keep talking anyway.

    Reply

    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 13, 2011 @ 17:56:31

      that is all we can do isn’t it. Unless we come up with a magical solution. I’m still hoping for that. 🙂

      Reply

  7. Jessi Hagood
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 19:51:01

    excellent post and thoughts. very well written and so very true. It’s sad the hate and ignorance that exists in this world.

    Reply

    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 13, 2011 @ 19:53:08

      Thanks Jessi. I am encouraged by all of the feedback I’ve been getting today. Maybe there is more hope than hate.

      Reply

  8. thepetalpusher
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 16:44:09

    I am enraged over the ignorance of these people!! Aren’t we learning from past mistakes? Is it so difficult, as you have written, for people to realize that we are all trying to survive TOGETHER!! Acceptance is through knowledge. I am speechless, Lisa. Yes, and sad too.

    Reply

    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 14, 2011 @ 17:29:28

      I know. I run into this kind of thing a lot. Ignorance is one thing, but when it leads to completely horrible statements like this, I always become speechless.

      Reply

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  10. Taochild
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 12:29:21

    Humanity as a whole has a lot of growing to do. We are so easily blinded by rhetoric and misinformation, and don’t know how to let go, even when it is not even our own baggage. The only solution is for folk with open eyes, hearts and minds to teach and and demonstrate the power of love and acceptance. Some will refuse to learn, but light will always push back the darkness, even if only an inch at a time.

    Reply

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