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Another Sunday Poem-

This came to me while thinking of the tragic arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. I cannot say anything at all about Charleston except that I am praying for the victims and their families.



Hunger

For years, the elder brother
Gulped envy; swallowed bitterness,
Till, at last, he spat them out
In anger,
Forgetting
(As his brother, eating greed and shame
in his pigsty, also forgot),
That there is love enough
To feed everyone.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
vermouth1991
Jun. 29th, 2015 02:56 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I really wonder if there really is a big cosmic balance going on. Was the lenience towards the defeated South worth the people still not coming to terms that slavery wasn't ever a grand thing to hold onto, for all this time, and the racial hatred and the people that are killed even to this day? There were no summary executions 150 years ago, but then people just kept being lynched for other reasons...
mary_j_59
Jun. 30th, 2015 04:18 am (UTC)
Um - wow! As you may know, I'm a big admirer of Madeleine L'Engle's; I'd call her one of my influences, definitely. Her roots were in the deep south (Northern Florida), via England and France. When I was an adolescent, I read a couple of books by her that explained the Southern viewpoint. It was a real eye-opener to me.

I'm quoting roughly, from memory, from the YA book "Dragons in the Waters". The 13-year-old protagonist, Simon, is explaining the Southern viewpoint to a couple of new friends. He says, "The war wasn't about slavery; not really. And the Union wrecked everything. They looted and burned and salted the fields. When you salt the earth, nothing can grow there for years..." He goes on to explain that, in his family, Blacks and Whites together starved as a result of the Union's actions. Honestly, I think that's a common viewpoint in the South, and there is some truth behind it. The Union did loot, burn, and salt fields. The people of the South did not have an easy time during and after the war.

As to Reconstruction - it's a fascinating time. At first, African Americans were making real strides towards equality. But then came the Jim Crow laws, and the Klan, and things got much, much worse for a long time. And - it didn't have to be that way. The 14th amendment was passed in the 19th century; it took until the middle of the 20th for it to be enforced at all.

As I say all this, please remember I'm not an historian. But I don't think it would have helped the U.S., or the world, if the already harsh actions of the Union had been harsher. Was it a good thing that the world punished Germany after WWI? Germany, where little children were starving in the cities? I don't think so based on what happened 20 years later. Our actions after WWII were a lot more productive.

My two cents!
vermouth1991
Jul. 1st, 2015 09:59 am (UTC)
0) I think I may have made a pretty grave mistake in my previous reading of your entry (though you might not be able tell that from my comment), but this was not about that Black Christian church that got shot up by that "Roof" dude, right?

1) I hope by "Um - wow!" you're not meaning that I said anything offensive to you.

2) So now to the main point: my previous comment was more of a general feelings thing, I have a healthy interest in reading about the American Civil War although my biggest exposure to it came from movies — "Gone with the Wind" (which, after watching the DVD, both my mother and I agreed that the view in it was "reactionary as f@&k"), "Cold Mountain", and more prominently, Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln". Did you know, for instance, that Mississippi didn't officially ratify the 13th Amendment until the year 2010?

To address some of your points, I'm going to have to stray away from the Civil War for a while and tap into a stronger history knowledge trove of mine: post-WWII Germany and Japan. I don't know how good the local American news coverage of this is, but the current Japanese government is hell-bent on nullifying the 9th article of their post-war peace Consititution which is basically the only thing from stopping Japan from doing "true" armament and aggressive warfare. (Thanks to American support and their own eagerness, their so-called Self-Defence Force is already pretty fit for war and they really wanted to test their skills by helping out in Iraq, except legally they can't do that.) Sorry if I sound a bit preachy but I fear that the American media is too busy condemning the "Chinese expansionism" (I mean, Jesus, we only ever call it the "South Sea", it's the westerners that call it South China Sea, and yet they still don't think we have a rightful claim to the seas and islands?) to realize the other true threat that is a re-militarized Japan. Since 1868 their govenment has always been an aggressive one (actually they already tried invading Korea back in the late 1500s, only we thrashed their bottoms that time), and they have the dubious honor of never declaring war to the other nation(s) before fighting it. Here's where the comparison with Germany comes in...

(To be continued)

vermouth1991
Jul. 1st, 2015 10:23 am (UTC)
Part 2
So back in November 1918, Germany had lost a whole heap of men and resources, there was a Communist revolution brewing, and the government signed the capitulation treaty even though that meant stripping Germany of even more resources in compensation to Britain/France/USA — and this was even before the Versailles Treaty that would proceed to strip Germany of all of her colonies and 1/8 of her European grounds. A prevailing sensation in Germany, right until Hitler won the vote and beyond, was basically "We were doing quite fine in the Great War, but the Jewish/Communist/weak-government traitors ended up surrendering!" A lot of them were so eager to try it second time around and do it right, and, to quote a personal favorite expression, the "more total and much more spectacular" defeat in May 1945 really shook the German people, to their foolishness in supporting Hitler and the NSDAP, and to the roots of starting a second war in general.

Yes, they'd paid dearly and partially because the allied side occasionally played dirty: the British bombed Dresden in a totally overkill fashion that killed more civilians than damaged what was left of German war industries, and the Soviet Red Army brutally plowed their way to Berlin and messing up a lot of Human Rights along the way — A small tangent: histories like this is why I cannot buy the "feminist" argument that if non-plot-advancing rape happens in literature than it's basically Pure Misogynist Evil on the writers' part (of course men can never be raped, nuh-uh). Try "making sense" of actual widespread rapes in Berlin and Nanjing, b@tchs. — But whether the parties of this "overkill" or war brutality (although the Soviets really could play the "They did that to us first!" card) apologized or not is strangely less important than what the war-aggressor-nation's people make of their own sins in starting the damn war and maintaining it until defeat. The German people, on the whole, did a fabulous job of that. They did the deNazification process, tried the Nazi criminals (those that didn't run away, at least, but note that they felt the need to run away from Germany, which comes important in later comparisons) in the Nuremberg Tribunal, and despite West Germany and East Germany going on different political and economical pathways from 1948 to 1989, both halves did a lot to evaluate the sh*t they'd stirred in the 1930s and 1940s, with notable efforts such as remunerating the losses of surviving European Jews, and the famous Warschauer Kniefall (Warsaw Kneefall) by then West-German premier Willie Brandt in his 1970 visit to Poland, in front of a monument of slaughtered Jews.

— Note that Herr Brandt himself was totally not Nazi-affiliated when he was young, in fact he'd even cooled his heels in a camp for a while for political dissent. But he was the premier of the "now" Germany and he had a responsibility to represent his country and their path "from now on". Poland forgave Germany on his behalf. And so did a lot of the Jewish people worldwide. That's how a nation that instigated such terrible terribleness should act in order to seek a better path in the future.

(To be continued)

Edited at 2015-07-01 10:28 am (UTC)
vermouth1991
Jul. 1st, 2015 11:16 am (UTC)
Part 3
As for Japan, more and more people in my country are thinking that they're in a similar mindset to 1918 Germany. They'd lost a big war and painfully so, but they're holding their chin high and refusing to do more than the bare minimum to apologize or self-introspect. Breaking that into smaller points:

(1) WWII was the first modern war they'd lost. They kicked Qing-China's butt in the 1st Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895 with minimum losses and in return got to occupy the island of Taiwan in perpetuity and received 200,000,000 liang (roughly 6250 tons) of silver bullion in war reparations which helped jump-start their capitalist industries; in WWI they picked the right side to fight and by decree of the Versailles Treaty got to inherit the German privileges in China's Shandong province (which sparked the May 4th Students & Workers Movements because we'd realized just how weak our nation has become: We'd helped the Entente war effort since 1917, thousands of war workers gave their lives on the front, and hurray Germany was defeated! We'd sent our own delegation to Paris, thinking that "At least we can reclaim the lands and rights that Germany — not Britain or France, just Germany — had stolen from us, right? Right?" F@&k no.) Japan had annexed Korea since 1910, and conquered Manchuria (the northeastern part of China, amounting to several million square kilometers and 30 million people) in 1932 — which the United States and the League of Nations hardly raised a fuss about, btw — then they never stopped advancing further in regions like Shanghai (Jan.28,1932) and pushing the occupation line until it became dangerously close to Peiping/Beijing in 1937, then they finally started the all-out assult and invasion in July 7th. In either way you measure it, China's been fighting a fascist invasion on her own long before a shot was fired on Poland, we started the earliest and ended the latest (the last of the stubborn f@&kers in Manchuria weren't wiped out until late September 1945), but our role in WWII continues to be erased in western media even to this day. We were battling 60-70% of the Japanese forces from Day One all the way to the bitter end, and because they couldn't wipe us out (the Communists were too stubborn to die, and Chiang Kai-Shek knows that if we surrendered then all would be lost so his forces fought bravely if a bit clumsily) they couldn't devote all of their best men to fight the British and Americans in the Pacific, nor can they go attack Russia in the North which meant Stalin had full confidence to pull his troops from the Far East to go help fight the Germans, west of the Ural. Conversely, Japan should've been completely demilitarized after the war, according to the damn constitution, but because China had turned "red" it was suddenly essential to take measures against the communism from China and USSR, and so the de-fascist treatment went *way* sloppier than it went for Germany. Some major war criminals were acquitted when they did not deserve to, or were never indicted at all — a prince had been a major plotter of the Nanjing Massacre got off scott, while the Emperor Hirohito...put it this way, if there'd been a Nuremberg-esque tribunal for German war criminals back in 1918, do you think that Kaiser Wilhelm II wouldn't be held accountable as a figure in power and desicion-maker? Worst of the worst, the major structure of the government was held intact and even some of the war cabinet dudes never lost their old jobs. Back to the Germany comparison: among the Nazi government there were survivors, there were even those who were acquitted on the "only following orders" gig. But they did. not. get. to. stay. on. as. government. officials. Nazi bigshots who knew the occupiers would have their heads were fleeing to Argentina and whatnot, which is despicable that they got away, but on the other hand at least it shows that post-war Germany is no longer a nice place for them to live in.


(To be continued)

Edited at 2015-07-01 11:38 am (UTC)
vermouth1991
Jul. 1st, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
Part 4
Japan didn't really have that, and those f@&kers got away with everything so long as they played nice to the Americans (the American army used advanced biological warfare against the N-Korean and Chinese troops — courtesy of Shiro Ishii's research, who the Americans arranged to be pardoned in return for his tech, don't think for a moment that only guys like Lex Luthor makes that kind of deals) and could even go light candles for the dead souls of war criminals (yes, even Tojo's) in the yasukuni shrine. I mean, how can sh*t like this continue to exist, in an age when even "small" personal assault/rape trigger-alerts are being respected? Those are nation-scale triggers, politicians going to visit shrines that hold the names of murderers and human cockroaches. I mean, in comparison, there are Neo-Nazis in Europe, sure, but if a German politician reveals pro-Nazi leanings he'd totes lose his job and credibility, right? Then how come its OK for a whole bunch of Japanese people to continue going to a place that — under the guise of honoring "all of the dead soldiers" — pays genuine tribute to the Japanese versions of Hitler, Göring, Himmler, and Goebbels?!

(2) The atomic bombs ended up giving Japan endless amounts of sympathy factor. They're actually dressing themselves as the Victim(tm) of the war, while completely erasing the sh*t they'd done, for years, without real global resistance.

So back to your point of, Was it a good thing that the world punished Germany after WWI? Germany, where little children were starving in the cities? I don't think so based on what happened 20 years later. Our actions after WWII were a lot more productive.
Germany proved to be a much "bigger man" than Japan could ever hope to be. Because *despite* the "children starving in the streets" (read: "C'mon, we've been punished enough already!") and the general devastation and the war crimes on the Soviets' part, they did not use it as "shields" to deflect historical fault on their part. They owned up to their sh*t in spite of the easy ways of escape. In spite of the raging Cold War which arguably was even more intense in Europe with the pointed guns and Berlin Wall they didn't stop thinking of the eastern European people they'd wronged (Eastern Europe and Russia being the major areas of Hitler's envisioned "Lebensraum" deal) despite the temptation to diss them all as Commies and thus the enemy. In spite of them actually getting to keep some proper troops and joining NATO, Germany didn't think about expansionism again. I'd say that the Allied "punishment" to Germany is more than enough, but in the end you can't pick someone up who doesn't want to stand up themselves. The Germans wanted to be decent humans again, and so they did.

And so we come back to the American South. From what I gathered, at least, the North offered mercy in that they didn't do war tribunals, but on the other hand they weren't firm in the Reconstruction where it should've counted, as in they roughed up the South and didn't rein in the bad apples in their ranks, and gave them plenty of excuses to paint the North as the villain (like Japan with the atomic attacks) despite that they were the ones that started the damn war and splitting the Union in the 1st place. A bit of anti-racism education could've gone a long way, too. Maybe black people still won't be getting full legal rights until the 1960s, but at least there could've been fewer lynchings in the micro-level of things.

And perhaps a bit less fondness for the confederate flag.

(Drat, are we still talking about the same thing? xD)
mary_j_59
Jul. 1st, 2015 02:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Part 4
Wow again! Thanks for these long and thoughtful comments. It is interesting to get the Chinese perspective on WWII; it's something most of us Americans haven't been taught.

The impetus for the poem was the burning (or attempted burning) of the Church of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes in the Galilee by Jewish terrorists, as well as the attack in Charleston by a white terrorist. The third impetus - what I'm quoting and commenting on - is the parable of the prodigal son in the New Testament.

And you're right: Japan never truly faced its past in the way Germany did after WWII. An acquaintance of mine, an author, pointed this out very plainly in a novel. (It's called "Bitter Tea" if you're interested!)

But, as to the South, I don't think more harshness would have helped. Also, this was a civil war. It was quite literally brother against brother at times. And one of the major problems with dealing with slavery and reconstruction was this: with few exceptions, the Northerners were also racists. One of the major ideas of some of the abolitionists was that the freed Blacks (or African Americans, or people of color) should be shipped back to Africa, to Liberia, because they could never integrate as equals in America. Had the North not also been racist; had the war truly been about equality for freed slaves, things might have been better. Maybe.

BTW, when I talked about German children starving in the cities, I meant during and after WWI, not during and after WWII - though it certainly happened then, too. A friend of my parents, a generation older than they, was a German immigrant. She could not bear to eat turnips because, as a child during this time, this was all they had to eat. And after that the German economy crashed, such that people had to carry money in wheelbarrows simply to pay for groceries. And after *that* came the worldwide depression. Hitler was popular because he built roads and cars and got people back to work. But I'm sure you know all that!

Getting back to Japan, one thing I hadn't realized until I was an adult is that Japan was, and still is, quite racist. And it's certainly never dealt with that. It's an interesting question why not.

Oh - and another thing that I hadn't realized until I was an adult is that thousands of my fellow Catholics died at Nagasaki. One can argue that the bombing of Hiroshima was right and necessary. That simply can't be argued about Nagasaki.

But I think many Asians are understandably still angry at Japan. it would help a lot if Japan actually owned up to the many atrocities they committed. To give one example, I hadn't heard of the Rape of Nanking until I was an adult. It was beyond awful; as bad as anything the Nazis or the Russian communists did. But, for decades, no one in the West even knew about it.

Anyway, thanks for your comments. Very enlightening! Though they go in a different direction my poem did, that is no bad thing.
mary_j_59
Jul. 3rd, 2015 04:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Part 4
Oh - btw, re reconstruction and how it was rolled back, this recent article in the Atlantic monthly is fascinating!

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/02/the-great-illusion-of-gettysburg/238870/

And the New Testament stories I'm responding to in the poem: there are three - are the Prodigal Son, the Parable of the Loaves and Fishes, and the story of the First Communion.
vermouth1991
Sep. 2nd, 2015 11:52 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Part 4
I'm reading that article right now, Mary. It's very informative stuff. (I'm having a feeling that it seems that "mere comic books" might do a better job in showcasing the actual clash of ideologies, e.g. Captain America charging against a Nazi-proxy Red Skull who's wielding an energy rifle — the meaning being if the superheroes hadn't defeated the supervillians, world war 2 would have ended very differently, etc.) More importantly, though, I never did tell you how much I appreciated you for letting me set up my little Soapbox in your turf, and you were so patient with me and we had such a grand time talking about history. Thank you so much! (And I'll reply to your above comment as soon as I can.)

My country's planned a major major military review in honor of imperial Japan's surrender and the end of WWII, and it's less than 12 hours away. (7:30 a.m., GMT+8) I don't know if you can get channel CCTV-News from where you live, but maybe you could get it on some of the American news channels, it's guaranteed to be a spectacle. #FeelingSolemn

Edited at 2015-09-02 11:57 am (UTC)
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