Thanks Juan for posting the name...
I found one item on Google...
| April 17, 2006
Last year marked the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II. In journalism, it was a year filled with a great number of articles, all eloquently written and appropriately filled with reflection and sorrow. Many were based on stories from the survivors and veterans of The Last Great War, recounting the horror and tragedy of war; all had the implicit and important messages we all know, but seem never to learn. “Peace In Our Time.” “Lest We Forget.” “Never Again.”
I read a story in the Globe and Mail
about a Canadian veteran who was captured when Hong Kong fell to the Japanese in 1942. He recalled one particularly brutal Japanese sergeant, Kanao Inouye, who was responsible for torturing and killing at least eight Canadian PoWs under his supervision. They nicknamed him “The Kamloops Kid” because he was born and raised in Kamloops, B.C.
By all accounts, the “Kid” was a vicious piece of work: sadistic, cruel, openly motivated to revenge against the white Canadian soldiers because of the racism he’d received growing up here. “When I was in Canada I took all kinds abuse,” Kanao purportedly said to the PoWs. “They called me a little yellow bastard. Now where is your so-called superiority, you dirty scum?” The Kid was eventually tried by the War Crimes Judiciary after the war, convicted of treason, and hanged in 1947.
In everything I’d read about the Kid, he was almost uniformly hated, castigated as a monster, a traitor, a failure of a man. But a strange thing happened to me when I was reading about him. I found myself grieving. Not only for the victims of his cruelty. But also for him.
I certainly don’t condone his crimes. But I did wonder: is it wrong to grieve for him? Is it wrong to grieve for any of humanity’s monsters, the evil and twisted creatures from our sordid past, who committed crimes above and beyond anything I or any other normal, warm-blooded human being could even imagine?
In grieving, I felt alone. Because no one else grieved for him. No one even seemed to remotely feel anything for him and if they did, it was hatred. Indeed, references to him were either dispassionately academic (a curious artifact of war) or to vilify or dismiss him (a Jap bastard) as something beneath us all.
I’ve never heard anyone ask a simple Why?
I know it’s a question that often goes unanswered in life; maybe because the answers are too complex, too revealing, too much to bear. But I don’t believe for a moment that there isn’t an answer. I do believe it’s our responsibility to ask ourselves all the tough questions in life. Especially Why.
Because by not asking, it makes it sound like this and all other crimes occurred in a vacuum. Nothing in this world occurs in a vacuum. Cause and effect is the inviolable rule in this life; there is always a chain of events upon a chain of events that is directly attributable to the act. The father beat the child, who then grew up a murderer. The jocks humiliated the geeks in the cafeteria, who then became killer gunmen. The mean white boys beat up the “little yellow bastard,” who then became The Kamloops Kid.
I know it’s not that simple. Complex organisms fed complex variables in complex environments defy simple statements of causality, and we’d be doing the victims of the Kid an injustice if we merely resolved that he was just a mistreated boy who couldn’t help but act out on his rage.
I won’t do that. But I will grieve for him. I take that as my responsibility.
I do it because of his untold stories of pain and suffering and abuse, physical and emotional. As much as he’s dismissed as an aberration of our species, his stories are there, remain there, the only difference being that he was one of the few insane enough to act on them, perverting his pain and taking it past the bounds of humanity, with tragic consequences.
I do it because I know that acts of sprained cruelty aren’t beyond any of us. Most of us under the bell curve, myself included, are merely lucky to have prevented the pain of our personal experiences from overwhelming our common sense as regular, decent human beings. We’re all at most six degrees away from committing a horrible atrocity, an unspeakable crime, something that would destroy others, and ourselves.
I wonder, if I were in the Kid’s situation, what would I have done? What choices would I have made? And then I realize I could never be in his situation, but I came pretty damn close. I think back to the muscled, leering white bullies of my youth, laughing at me, insulting me, making me kiss the pavement all too often back home in the small southern Ontario town where I grew up, just because of my skin color. I remember during one incident, I fought back. My parents had signed me up for judo lessons, and I ended up flipping one of my tormentors over in a smooth, practiced motion. Immediately, a boy named Craig picked me up by the lapels and cursed at me: “I’ll beat the **** out of you, you ****ing bag of rice.” A teacher broke it up.
I remember it all vividly, viscerally, the fear and the shame and the rage at being weak and scared and unable to defend myself. I shudder to think what kind of revenge or restitution I could have meted out. It saddens me that I have, in fact, thought of revenge at all. Back then. And right now.
And I am proud that I made the right choice. That, too, is my responsibility.
I guess that makes it sound paradoxical, doesn’t it? We’re loath to bear responsibility for creating the monsters in our midst, but they are there. And they are us. We’re obligated to break the chain of pain, to make sure the potential monster in all of us never comes to be, regardless of the suffering and abuse, physical and emotional, we’ve all been subjected to. It is, above all, the most basic responsibility each and every one of us has.
It may sound maudlin, but they say wisdom is the lesson learned not from making mistakes, but by avoiding them. I can use my pain for goodness instead of pettiness, to teach rather than inflict, to connect rather than sever. I can close my fist to strike. But I can also open my heart, and swallow the pain of others who display it in forms that are misinterpreted as rage and anger and cruelty. It makes me remember a corruption of the Prayer of St. Francis I heard while watching Band of Brothers
, a miniseries about the American 101st Airborne in World War II:
To be understood is to understand all.
To be loved is to love, with all my heart.
With all my heart.
A closed fist. An open heart.