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Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Tomorrow is  the 75th anniversary of that Day of Infamy:  the Japanese surprise attack of Pearl Harbor.  I am among the very few alive today who was personally caught in this irruption.

I was one year old, and, according to my mother, witnessed the blitz that changed the world and my life.  I don't remember anything of that day, of course,  and only faint memories of gas masks and blackouts.

Furthermore, while I was born American in Hawaii, my roots are Toyama (Honshu) and Utashinai (Hokkaido), Japan.  I've posted on my Search for Kenjiro's (he was my father's father and my middle name is Kenji) Grandmother's, and, growing up, avoided most things Japanese to exhibit my loyalty to the stars and stripes, never learning the language of my grandparents.  There was a lot of the culture I purposefully missed.  Now, I regret being so immature in my thinking, but, after all, I was a child, then a disattached adult.

Thus, in many ways, I am uniquely qualified to comment on this general subject, for I have given considerable thought to the consternation and consequences.  Conspiracy theories abound about the sudden strike, dropping of those Atomic Bombs and subsequent ramifications.  My take is quite different, for my conclusion is a positive twist to the derived awe and hatred engendered by December 7.

Wars, certainly, are terrible.  They are one of the ultimates in human tragedy.  While nature--the jungle...viruses versus bacteria--has evolved through survival of the fittest, Humanity does have a special kind of social intelligence and conscience that, over time, should prevail to someday make warfare obsolete.  We are not there yet, and World War II was only another example of global conflicts to come that will further change our societal structure.  There will always be winners and losers.  WWII nicely set the stage for the USA becoming the supreme nation in the world, and, too, also paved the way for my success in life.

How so,  you ask?  Hawaii was a paternalistic White-dominated society before WWII.  Mind you, Hawaii's racial prejudice at the time of WWII was almost civil.

The malevolence was palpable in much of the U.S., where I remember seeing black and white drinking fountains and toilets when I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  However, non-Caucasians were definitely second-class citizens in the Territory of Hawaii.

WWII, heroism of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) and the GI Bill totally changed the political structure, thus affecting the way of life in all of Hawaii.  While the demographics have shifted...
  • In 1940 the state was 38% Japanese and 25% Caucasian.
  • Today, 17% Japanese and 24% Caucasian.
...locals of Japanese descent continue to play an expanded role throughout the state.

More specific to me, I ascended into leadership roles at the University of Hawaii.  This would almost surely not have happened before WWII.  I first stepped into my Manoa Campus office in 1972, and, here, 44 years later, I'm composing this statement from my office in the Pacific Ocean and Science Structure building, for which I helped secure initial planning funds, almost 30 years ago.

Today, Hawaii is far from perfect, but, still, the most racially harmonious of any other State in the Union.  Well, here is one list that shows Colorado and Maryland are the least prejudiced in the country, with Hawaii at #3 (worst:  Mississippi).   However, I've lived in our Nation's Capital, and there is no way Maryland can possibly be #2.  Hawaii, incidentally, is now the fifth most popular state (California #1).  Oh, that's President Barack Obama to the right when he played basketball for Punahou.

For the USA, World War II set the stage for supreme global dominance.  We are by most measures the Best Country.  Also, certainly, #1 as the Most Militarily Powerful.  Mind you, when it comes to quality of life, our cities do not fare well.  In the Mercer rating, the best U.S. city is San Francisco at 28, Boston 34 and Honolulu 35.

Maybe most important of all, portending continued success, the U.S. has the best universities, with eight of the top ten (the other two are from the United Kingdom).  And if you want to get physical, we have easily won the most medals in the Summer Olympics.  Sure, Norway is ahead of us in the Winter Olympics...but the U.S., thankfully, is not frozen for a good part of the year.

But returning to the purpose of this posting, the attack on Pearl Harbor could well have, in the mind of President Harry Truman, justify dropping those Atomic Bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  

The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold.

Yes, the 2500 deaths from the strike palled in comparison to the 250,000 (and other horrors, right) or so who died from those two bombs, but the horrific devastation served to prevent future Soviet Union and U.S. presidents to avoid any serious thoughts of a nuclear first strike, such that Humanity somehow survived the Cold War, a sign that Humanity is beginning mature.

But progress is never steady, and the present struggle for dominance has been complicated by the emergence of China and rise of Muslim terrorism.  Yet, nothing today shows the potential for the total annihilation of life as we know it.  Sure, the Atomic Clock still indicates imminent doom, but global warming is yet a pale shadow of what could have been a nuclear winter.

The matter of biological terrorism cannot be discounted, plus that next 100 million-year asteroid is out there somewhere.  There is further a chance of a gamma ray burst from a hypernova, but I'm now really stretching my imagination.  And what about aliens?   I do have a 10% simple solution for world peace, but that is almost frivolously picayune relative to the magnitude and inevitability of true Universal Peace someday.  In any case, the reality of today is that we live in an imperfect society on a still thriving Planet Earth:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, again, broke its all-time record, up 36 to 19,252.  Frankly, I'm confused as to why, but I shouldn't have negative thoughts, because all my endowments are doing fabulous.


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