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Fairly recently, I met an Asian lady who seemed to be, by all basic means, a very nice, sweet, gentle and loving woman who is about my age. We corresponded by email a few times and we were both really enjoying the communication. We both asked many questions about one another, our countries, our preferences, likes/dislikes, work, etc. We also discussed what we wanted for the future. This, of course, led me to discuss my plans next year to fly to Japan for a couple of months in order to study Japanese and earn college credit, in addition to paving the way for my future working in Japan. It was at this point her attitude change dramatically, and after she finally revealed to me the source of her irritation, it reminded me of something that is still going on right here in my home state of Louisiana.
The first thing that took me by surprise was her sudden interest in my trip to Japan: why I wanted to learn Japanese, why Japan, instead of someplace else, on and on. Then she asked me “Would you consider meeting and marrying a Japanese woman?” My answer to her is the same as it is about any woman, regardless of race: “If I meet a special woman who is what I am looking for, and she happens to be Japanese, then yes, of course.” At this point, she became very angry, and told me bluntly, “Why would you want to be with a Japanese? They are whores!” This was just the “tip of the iceberg;” she indeed had far more hostility beneath the surface, and after asking her a series of questions, she finally revealed the source of her anger: wrongs suffered by her country from past Japanese war transgressions. While this saddened me, it finally all began to make sense.
Here in my state especially, there is a large amount of this hatred directed toward people living now that had nothing to do with any of the wrongs suffered in the past. Additionally, the group doing the hating is suffering none of those past wrongs currently – they are over and done with. In effect, the modern hate groups are using the events of the past, wrong ones and perceived wrongs, to fuel their anger, hatred, and to further damage the cause of unity and oneness that we so desperately need in this world – a REAL unity made of love and acceptance, not a fake one imposed upon us by some ruling agency of oppression.
When I mentioned the concept of “forgiveness” and the letting go of anger, the lady I was speaking with became even angrier. It did me no good to try and explain that I understand how that history can be hurtful to how she feels and thinks about the Japanese system, but that she should try, as best as humanly possible, to harbor and nurture thoughts of forgiveness and love to everyone, including those who may seem to be enemies to her.
In my own life, I have had some people seriously wrong me on many occasions. I have been back-stabbed, lied about, lied to, defaced, abandoned, slandered, hurt and otherwise mistreated in more ways that I can remember or care to. I have many people around me who would testify to the wrongs I have suffered and the wrongness thereof. However, does this give me a “free pass” to be angry, hateful, unforgiving, and vengeful? Absolutely not. If I am to be better – if we all are to be better – we must set aside those things which weigh us down, and this includes things that we may think we cannot possibly change, like the way we think about those around us.
A friend of mine said once, “harboring un-forgiveness, no matter how much it may seem justified, is like drinking a vial of poison and waiting for the other person to die.”