Monday, November 25, 2013
One of the most endearing stories of the latter part of the 1st half of the 20th century is the account encapsulated in a sterling book of William Manchester “American Caesar”. Five-star General Douglas MacArthur was assigned the task as Supreme Commander of allied forces at the end of World War II in the Pacific to administer the affairs of the conquered nation of Japan.
Conducting the formal surrender of Japan on board the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay in September of 1945 he gave a speech mirroring the 2nd inaugural of Abraham Lincoln after the American Civil War that peace is to be sought and not punishment of an entire people for the wrongdoings of their government. The representatives on board the Missouri of the Allied nations could hardly keep from showing their bitterness and hatred for the cruelty and atrocities shown by the Japanese armies but General MacArthur impressed the representatives of Japan, signing the documents of unconditional surrender, with his compassion and understanding that peace would not be brought about through unjust treatment of a whole people; he understood that Japanese government propaganda had kept the horrific atrocities from the people.
General MacArthur’s understanding of the Oriental mind through his 50 years of experience living in Asia led him to understand that he must respect everything good present in the structure of the Japanese government and culture through their centuries of history. He would not depose the Emperor who was seen as half divine and half human by the Japanese but would work through him in accomplishing his task of reforming the Japanese government into one of the world’s democracies. As it happened Emperor Hirohito understood well that his role as Emperor must change and conform to the legitimate proposals of the Supreme Commander. As MacArthur saw it, the Emperor would freely come to him instead of being forced and that visit would break the aura of the divinity of the Emperor − and Hirohito did just that.
At his first place of residence in Tokyo, MacArthur’s refusal to have his food, prepared by his Japanese hosts, tasted for possible poison had a salutary effect on the Japanese people when they realized that he trusted them. The 1st task he performed, after seeing the horrible conditions of a ruined Japan, and the people needing food, was to have the American military provide food for the Japanese to avoid starvation.
MacArthur wrote the Japanese constitution; free speech and many other freedoms similar to those in the United States Constitution were guaranteed. He gave women the right to vote and disposed of feudal marriage contracts. The feudal practice of all arable land owned by a few rich men and then rented out in parcels to tenant farmers who had no control over the use of their parcels was similarly abolished and parcels sold to individual farmers. Japanese industries that served the war effort were converted to peaceful endeavors.
MacArthur made it clear that he wanted the Japanese people to do as much as they could for themselves in freedom; when called for the U.S. Congress granted loans to fund the needs of the people to accomplish these tasks. MacArthur provided American experts in many areas like the reform of education to teach the Japanese ways of doing things they had never done before. He wanted to help them carry out the tasks they needed to do for themselves and the Japanese responded with great spirit and energy. The General used no coercion in seeing that his reforms were carried out; all directives were approved by the emperor and the bicameral legislature and followed by the people. Such was the respect for General MacArthur and his programs.
There are so many other accomplishments of MacArthur that brought Japan into the realm of democracies in the modern era. The standard of living of Japan by the end of the five years of Douglas MacArthur’s administration was higher than before the war. Japan was to become an economic power second only to the United States. The foundation for this transformation was accomplished by a single man, General Douglas MacArthur, who became revered by the Japanese people as much as was the emperor. He is looked upon by many as the greatest man who ever lived. The book “American Caesar” should be read by everyone who is interested in the qualities of those who have helped others against the prevailing criticism of contemporaries.
Friday, November 8, 2013
A year of pain
Today, here in 2013, or my 78th year of age, started with some back pain in January which usually would last a week or a few days and then go away but it lingered the entire month..
In order to determine what might be the cause I sought the help of 2 doctors in February and March.
The 1st Dr. Thought it might be due to an infection so gave me an antibiotic which did not help.
The 2nd Dr. Suggested I take physical therapy. I did so and this helped for a month or so.
After physical therapy no longer worked and that pain was getting more severe my doctor suggested I have an MRI. The MRI not only showed very little space for the nerves to get through L3 L4 in the lower back, it also showed the presence of an aneurysm (a weakness in the artery wall in my left leg which had grown to a size of 4.2 cm).
My father-in-law had in 1972 an aneurysm near his kidney which burst on a weekend and he was not able to find a surgeon who could fix the problem, so he bled to death.
I made Surgery appointments for the elimination of the aneurysm as well as surgery on my back towards the end of this year.
The aneurysm was taken care of this past Monday and the surgery was a success. The work was done from the inside of the artery so open surgery was avoided. I am recuperating but there is pain and I need to walk with a walker so I don’t fall.
I don’t know whether I’ll be in shape to get the back operations this year on December 2. Probably I will have to delay it.
From back pain and the aneurysm I have been in pain pretty much the whole year. But I listened to a pastor explaining on TV what we must do when we encounter sorrow, pain, losses, tending to make us feel sorry for ourselves. But he made clear what we must do when we are in these kinds of states. God is with us the whole time and we must offer to him ourselves as a living sacrifice to God who will lead us the proper way according to his plan; In doing this we follow the model of Jesus Christ Who suffered and died for each one of us to remove us from the stain of sin. This is what I wish to do and this is what I am doing so that my sacrifice might help others in need.