Saturday, July 4, 2015

Man’s Inhumanity to Man – When Power Corrupts

"With these Hands -- Wonder" Oil on acrylic underpainting
It's the 4th of July; Independence Day, and I'm going to repeat a blog in memory of the veterans and troops throughout the years who have fought for our freedom. My inspiration came from reading “Unbroken; a World War II Story of Survival,” by Laura Hillenbrand. In that blog, I mentioned that it was hard for me to read more than a few chapters a day. 

The material is so raw, so cruel and emotional that I had to quit reading in order to regain my composure. I’m not a crier; people who know me know that I don’t cry easily, especially in front of others. But I will tell you this. While reading this book, my eyes filled with tears and my heart experienced the agony of shared empathy.

As POWs, these men tried to retain their dignity as human beings under cruel and inhumane circumstances. Struggling to maintain scraps of freedom their defiance kept them going. Their bodies would be starved and beaten. They would be forced into submission, but their souls, their attitudes and minds would soar above on silent prayers of hope and endurance.

Their struggles reminded me of this passage from the Book of Job in the Bible: “I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it. My conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” (Job 27:6 NIV)

Educators always refer to the Jewish Holocaust under Hitler as the worst example in history of human degradation and deprivation. And well they should. But its relevance has been broadcast on the wings of a political agenda labeled “Anti-Semitism.” Yet the fact that thousands and millions of Soldiers suffered under the tyrannical hands of the Japanese in the brutal POW camps is little known. Why? Because the power of the elite has deemed America an “Imperialist” country and these facts do not suit their political agenda.

(first great granddaughter)
I went to Wickipedia hoping to find some historical and accurate information. To my surprise their main focus was on the Japanese Internment Camps in the US and Japanese POWs where the prisoners were treated humanely compared to the treatment of US prisoners in Japanese camps. This is how history has been manipulated for political purposes.

Most of the US and Allied POWs in Japan died from starvation. They became slave labor and worked long hours on rice or seaweed broth having neither protein nor vegetables. They suffered preventable diseases such as beriberi and scurvy. These valiant men helped each other, protected each other; and when they could, shared what little food they had in order to keep their buddies alive. 

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers,” Karl Barth a theologian of the 20th century once said. Those who survived were sometimes hourly on their knees.

These prisoners were beaten daily, beaten for pleasure, and if they were officers or men of stature beaten extensively. They were coverless and barefoot in winter; their bodies covered only with shreds of cloth that were once the clothing they wore when captured. International law regarding Prisoners of War was ignored. The Red Cross dropped food supplies in the camps, but the Japanese guards horded them for themselves or sold them on the black market.

Sadly, their suffering and torture in the POW camps was overshadowed by the “bomb” that finally made Japan stand still. How do you stop a tyrant? How do you bring down the planes raining bombs on your own soil and stop an aggressive enemy intent on conquering the world? How do you stop a bully with an arsenal who is out to cleanse the world of unwanted races, ethnicities, or religions? How do you stop a mad man, a dictator from implementing his hatred?

During the course of the war, Japanese civilians also suffered as their country began to collapse at war’s end. A quote from the book states: “Near the end of the war, the civilians (not the guards or hierarchy) were in shocking conditions. The limbs of the adults were grotesquely swollen from beriberi; a condition the POWs knew well. Their children were emaciated…But Japan was a long way from giving up.”

The Japanese considered “surrender” shameful, and they were prepared to fight to the end at all costs. They had also decided that no prisoners would be released to their allied forces. They intended to kill every last one. Hundreds of POWs were shot and dumped in the nearby jungles. There were few options open to the POWs for escape or rescue.

There’s another side to the story. What enemy would warn their adversary of an upcoming attack? American B29s “showered leaflets over 35 Japanese cities warning civilians of coming bombings and urging them to warn others and to evacuate. “But the Japanese authorities punished those who had leaflets or who gave them to their neighbors and tried to warn them. Two of the cities warned and mentioned in the leaflets were Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Today, my blog is long. This war, this book has deeply affected me. I am incensed by “man’s inhumanity to man.” Sadly, those who served our country, who suffered and endured, were forgotten to satisfy a contemporary ideology intent on promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. It has taken America several decades to honor those who served in the World War II arena. There are very few of them who still remain.

To add insult to injury, those surviving American heroes were insulted once again when the “mock government shut-down” denied them passage into the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. that was built specifically to honor them. 

I am ashamed of our leaders in Washington. I am outraged at how they toy with our lives and tinker with the greatest thing we have going for us: our Constitution. May God bless America. She needs it now more than ever!