Lessons learned from hard times

1. Introduction

Hi to all!

In my part of the world, the sun is shining a bit longer than it was a few weeks ago, and the temperature is rising in fits and spurts. All of this gives me hope, that indeed there will be another spring!

It’s my wish for all of you, that even in the coldest days of winter you’ll feel the call of spring in your heart.

In Community,

2. Lessons learned from hard times

I have many fond memories of sitting in a small room in my wife’s grandmother’s house, sipping tea, and giving “obaachan” the space to say whatever was on her mind.

When I asked her about World War II here’s what she had to say.

“The death of loved ones, natural disasters, wars, and divorces. All of these events give us cause to stop and reflect on our lives.

World War II taught me a lot. It seems to me that in all wars, both sides tend to be correct in standing up for their values, and quite short-sighted in denying their shortcomings.

I think this is also true in personal relationships that aren’t going well. People fail to realize and acknowledge their own shortcomings, and this prevents them from recognizing there are always two people responsible for the failing.

When the war ended I was grateful to still be alive and I was ready to redirect my life. Having withstood the war I was pretty certain I could withstand everything life had to offer.

A lot of precious lives were lost and many people died at a very early age. The war broke my heart and caused me to reexamine everything I thought I knew. I was pretty certain my heart would break a few more times before I died, and I needed to take the time to better understand how life is full of suffering and joy, love and hate.

I found myself wondering what all the killing had accomplished. What truths had the war revealed? What lessons were to be learned by every Japanese person? Surely our culture needed to redirect itself, and I wondered how this would be accomplished, and if indeed it would be accomplished. Before the war life had a certain familiarity that felt comfortable. Up early every morning to start the day, and work well into the evening. All with a sense of an endless rhythm and flow, with one day leading to the next. By the end of the war, everything had been turned upside down. Everyone was so busy rebuilding shattered lives and attempting to make up for lost time, that few people took the time to sit and reflect.

I realized I was going to have to let go of great sadness in order to begin the next stage of my life. Having seen so many people die, I found it important to place the focus of my attention on the newborn babies in our neighborhood. Watching them grow, and flourish, under the gaze of a loving mother. Life was indeed continuing to spring forth and I knew it was important to focus on the positive.

The war led me to understand the world is being destroyed by the anger and resentment that is stirred up by our leaders. Beneath all the bad feelings lies a deep fear that is big enough to destroy all of life. When our fear, anger, and resentment overflows into war, it squeezes the love from our hearts and there are no winners. Only survivors.

God is the Spirit that lives within each of us and gives us life. Who we are, depends to a large extent on how we love. We need to nurture our fear and our anger with kindness, so that hope, health, and compassion will spring forth in each of us. Regardless of the country we were born in, or the values we hold dear.

There is a great deal of fear and anger in the world today. Please consider how you can nurture with kindness all those you meet and enter into relationship with.

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