Bridge to Forgiveness
December 3, 2006
My Dear Fellow Americans:
I am somewhat with a disquiet spirit as December 7, 2006, is approaching the 65th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Infamy. The enemy (JAP) PREEMPTIVELY ATTACKED a forever burning inexhaustible rag. 'Remember Pear Harbor, Who can forget,'
as the front pages of many newspaper across our own country declared 65 years ago! Talk about contempt? Smugness to think 'the enemy took advantage of the situation' while we slept. How in the world did WE SLUMBER, without having watch dogs at the post when we were in the war and we have ever since been decrying the horrific event as a 'SNEAKY' attack by warmongers?
For over half a century, we have been arguing heatedly whether or not the preemptive strike on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial military government was truly a "SNEAK" attack and/or whether it was a manipulated political tactic of FD Roosevelt. Was it so that he could bring the United States into what he called 'declared' war through the 'backdoor', as she was already in World War II by aiding England through the Lend-Lease Act? Unwanted war, but unavoidable war was ignited by what became the Pacific War Theater, and four years later, the United States dropped nuclear bombs, burning the two tales of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into human conscience for the 21st century.
Since that day, Hiroshima and Japanese people have long struggled, not only to salvage life from the ashes and ruins of the copiously bloodletting war, but ever searching for ways to bring healing with cultural understanding and to create permanent global peace, for the rest of the world.
Whether we agree or not, the rhetorical question must be asked: what have we gained by those arguments so far? Have we ever come closer to any place of reconciliation between these two former enemies who fought in the war? 'WHAT ABOUT PEARL HARBOR' we continual to argue fruitlessly in the World Court, until the cows come home, without any solution to human conflicts!
Like so many of you, I, too, am greatly troubled by the agonizing conflicts in the Middle East: both our involvement in Iraq, as to war against world terrorism as Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iran have done, is to guarantee that the other side will respond in a like manner. Every person killed leaves family members filled with anger and a desire for revenge.
Despair, anger, and a desire to protect and defend one's self and one's family or nation are very understandable. The only way to end the conflict is for each side to unilaterally stop the violence. Waiting for the other side to act first it only guarantees that the fighting will continue. Although the peoples of the world are many and varied, all six billion of us will share a common fate. Only through nonviolence and honoring and respecting the rights of all can we assure the safety of our children and even the continuation of the human race.
I am saddened to see that, in the midst of the lowest ebb of world geopolitical, military, social, religious, moral and spiritual conditions that we, as a nation of people, have created for decades, we are indulging in our own material prosperities, comforts and lives of ease. Could it be our own complacency that has shaped and undeniably become the root-cause for our nation becoming the global epidemic of pestilence? Whether or not our apathy has produced that in our environment, one must ask a soul-searching question:
Why do some people love the United States so much they will do anything to reach its shores and will die to defend it, and others so hate America that they will die for that hatred?
Many of us are confident that we are going to be 'different', setting our HOUSE and redirecting our destiny, as we, the voters declared the result of the November 7, 2006, Mid-term National Election. I wonder: how we can become a nation of 'new' people and conduct ourselves differently than we have been for the last 12 years, when our nation is divided? Could a wolf covered over by 'sheepskin' identify itself as a sheep?
Is it indisputable that, in our current world condition of overwhelming despair, fear and uncertainty that is troubling our hearts, that we have the luxury of time to look for the other 'party' to make the first attempt to come to us, when the world is shadowed by the brink of yet another nuclear abyss and international conflicts escalate?
This TENSION that threatens our lives and future of our children and their children of the world prompts several questions that must be addressed immediately.
My name is Takashi "Thomas" Tanemori, and I am a native of Japan, born into a Samurai family. On August 6, 1945, I was less than one mile from ground zero when the atomic bomb exploded; though I survived, I lost 6 members of my family, including my parents.
Before my Father died he asked me, as his Number One Son, to live my life as 'he lived before' his six children; and he taught us the lessons he learned from his parents, the Code of the Samurai. Above all, I should be true to myself. It was tall order for a young boy of age 8. As I tried to survive after the loss of my parents, I went from being the Number One Son in my family to a street urchin, which is called an Oyanashigo in Japanese. I became a rat, searching through garbage cans and waste sites for food, just to stay alive. I fought constantly against a society that showed no mercy to a "fatherless"
child. My young life filled with anger and glowing white-hot determination that one day I would make the Americans pay. I would take revenge on Americans who had destroyed my family, and I hated America for doing this to me.
There was no place in Japanese society to hide my shame and pain, as I was 'Hibakusha,' a reminder that Japan lost war, the epitome of shame and disgrace.
I lashed out at the Japanese for their unwillingness to help. At age 16, the burden of dishonor and despair was so great that, unable to withstand Japanese society and its traditional codes imposed upon me, I attempted suicide. I failed at this. And, at age 18, with a heart set on vengeance, ready to inflict mayhem on the Americans who had made my life a living hell, I moved to the United States for revenge: Americans must suffer as I. But my life in America, as an immigrant and Hiroshima survivor, was a constant struggle for survival.
I found myself at a labor camp in Delano, California, where I picked fruit to feed Americans. I was subjected to constant racial and ethnic name calling.
I was called a "Jap" and was told I was responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor. This only added to my anger.
I am fortunate to have lived in both Japan and America, and experienced their cultural differences. I am truly grateful that the path of Hiroshima, however emblematic, at last, brought me home to my real promise to my Father, brought me to a place called . . . PEACE through forgiveness. This has been a spiritual transformation what Japanese people call 'Kokoro no Yasuragi? Yutori', experiencing true inner peace. It is an ultimate solution to human conflicts, a rite of passage marked by the discovery of forgiveness. It defines the relationship with the Divine (Creator? G_D) and sustains all human relationship; and without forgiveness human hearts strangle. This experience and knowledge has allowed me to express my love and gratitude for two countries that both nurtured and wounded me. I am now a proud naturalized American citizen.
My journey 'From Revenge to Forgiveness', beginning from the charred cradle of my childhood, propelling me onto a harsh journey toward manhood to the present, has been long, difficult, and inextricably linked to the seeming opposites of hatred and love. Over the years, it has become clear to me that neither the Americans nor Japanese were responsible for the hatred I carried for so long. The root of my problems had been the darkness of my own heart!
I am convinced that we can settle human conflicts and differences without resorting to violence, war, or endless cycles of revenge. There is one final war, however, the most difficult one of all, as it goes diametrically against our own human nature? WE MUST FIGHT THIS FINAL WAR, learning to forgive, reconciling and making peace with our painful past with former enemies. However, the success of this war hinges upon the individual who must conquer the raging war in their own darkest heart.
The struggle to achieve forgiveness is something that must be fought by everyone if our humanity is to survive. Again I say the struggle to achieve forgiveness must be fought by everyone if our children are to have a safer place to live in "gHEIWA", peace and harmony with different nationalities. And, it is imperative that we, adults, be responsible in the upbringing our children and their future!
I am persuaded that, when we conquer the raging war in our own hearts, one-by-one, as from my own experience, that the human soul is more powerful than any atomic weapon, and when the human heart is transformed, war will fall by the wayside. This is the reason why I have dedicated a part of my life to sharing my journey: I tell Takashi's Hiroshima story so that Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima
and Nagasaki will never, never, never again happen!
We need to learn from the past from the lesson of Hiroshima; and, No Matter What, You and I Can Choose to Forgive. As someone correctly said:
If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in character.
If there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
I have come to understand that we can make a better world creating peace ONE FORGIVING HEART AT A TIME!
Thomas Takashi Tanemori
2020 Durant Ave. #203, Berkeley, CA 94704-1590
(510) 845-0035www.takashitanemori.com & www.Silkwormpi.org Silkwormpiemail@example.com Tanemori@sbcglobal.net
PS. For further reference, you may contact John Crump, co-author of my
upcoming book: Bridge to Forgiveness: Takashi's Hiroshima Story at