Soucheray: Embrace love on infamous anniversaryWhen we were school children, we likely learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor, 70 years ago today.
By: Kate Soucheray, Woodbury Bulletin
When we were school children, we likely learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor, 70 years ago today. We may have learned about the attack of the ships that were in the harbor in Hawaii on the quiet Sunday morning. And how many of you were alive at that time and listened to the radio on that horrific, unbelievable day?
You may have sat in your homes, looking at each other, wondering what this scenario would mean for you, for your sons and fathers or for your brothers? The United States was at war, a mere 20 years after another war that threatened to be a war to end all wars, a war it had attempted to avoid.
Some people, perhaps even many people, will think of or speak of hatred regarding that day and the following years of strife, worry, deep sorrow and the unapproachable grief that ensued.
My mother speaks of her four brothers, three of whom served on warships in the Pacific Ocean during the war. My father-in-law was stationed in India and my husband’s uncles lived on a destroyer in the South Pacific. It was the way it was. People accepted the rations that were in place in order that those who were fighting in the war would have what they needed. The rations were willingly accepted by Americans, which were the limited amounts of supplies, from rubber bands to rubber tires, from paper clips to typewriter ribbons. The war affected everyone in our country in some way.
As we think of this today, what thoughts come to mind? If we have Japanese heritage, we may not feel free to speak of it, or admit it, even today, all these decades later. If we have family members who survived a concentration camp, we may find that children have questions about the numbers indelibly marked on their forearm, but the survivors may want to avoid any discussion or mention of the horrors experienced there.
As President Roosevelt said on Dec. 7, 1941, it was a day that would live in infamy, or disgrace and outrage, for all time.
How do we move beyond such shock and revulsion, beyond the hatred and disdain that naturally rise up in us, causing us to be unloving and unforgiving? Where do we find it in ourselves to let go of what seems to be unforgivable and extend mercy to those we may deem to be unworthy of it?
Certainly, this invites a deeper and better version of ourselves than we may believe is possible. But one such person who taught us how to do this was Viktor Frankl, a psychoanalyst who was incarcerated at Auschwitz during World War II.
Frankl wrote in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” that for the first time in his life, he understood the message of the greatest poets. This message, he states, is that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which a human being can aspire. He states that, “the salvation of humanity is through love and in love.”
And this from a man who was incarcerated in a concentration camp, cold, forced to march and work, with little food or medicine, unable to brush his teeth and no proper clothes or shoes to wear. A man who was forced to live in such conditions, beyond his will, and yet he states that love is the salvation of humanity.
If we had a brother, cousin, husband or father who died 70 years ago today at Pearl Harbor, we may have been tempted to live our lives in an absence of love. And this is the very thing Dr. Frankl advises us to avoid. He promotes the acceptance of all that is and to move forward in loving kindness toward all. From a man who was compelled to live under inhuman conditions, choosing to love rather than hate.
So today, if you have the opportunity to do something loving for another person, whomever it might be, extend that love. In doing so, we may be able to heal some of the hatred that will likely be spread today as our country remembers this horrific day in history.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and licensed family therapist