There was a time, over dinner many years ago, that an older friend of mine, a retired naval officer, a graduate of Annapolis and now a successful businessman wanted to talk to one of my sons about attending Annapolis. My friend had both political and military connections, and my son had grades sufficient for an application and appointment.
My friend was a good man, a survivor of Pearl Harbor, but he had a powerful hatred for the Japanese. He hated them so much that he took every opportunity in business, in public, and in private to say so. He was a successful big-time contractor who built office and factory buildings, but he used no products from Japan.
During our dinner conversation I told him, I hoped he would understand, but he could not talk to my son unless he could let go of his hatred of the Japanese. I didn’t want my son influenced by such a long-festering hate.
Senator Simpson was correct when he said at President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, “Hatred corrodes the container that carries it.” When you hate you create a bond as powerful as love, and it won’t release you from your pain until you consciously let it go. The great teachings of the world suggest that hatred will eventually destroy the hater.
My friend thought about our discussion for several weeks. One day he called to tell me he was going to visit Pearl Harbor…on his way to Japan.
He asked when he got back could he talk to my son. I said “yes.”
As an afterword, my son was not interested in a naval career and went on to be successful in another venue, and my friend was able to release a constricting hatred that held him in a cocoon of anger for decades.
As it is with so many acquaintances with which we are blessed in life, I have lost track of my friend and hope that if he is still alive, he passes today’s anniversary of the attack with a feeling of peace that only forgiveness can engender.