I was teaching an English as a Second Language class in 2001 when the movie Pearl Harbor was released. Three of the students in my class were Japanese men. One of these men had a relative who was involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor. All three of these men had family members who died when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All three of these men said that they were raised to believe that the US was the aggressor in the conflict with Japan. They professed to now having a different understanding of history, but they still didn’t understand how the US could justify using the atomic bomb when, according to their parents’ account of the war, their country was already devastated and the vast majority of the populace wanted the government to surrender. That notion has been validated by the writings of Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Albert Einstein, along with other statesmen, scientists, and military leaders of that time.
I did not have an answer to those three Japanese men on that day, but I think I have one now: Fear is a powerful motivator, and war is the ultimate expression of fear.
Here are a few Einstein quotations for your consideration as we mark the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor:
I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.
It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
The pioneers of a warless world are the youth that refuse military service.
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
And one by Martin Luther King:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.