Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dare to Be Naive

R. Buckminster Fuller once wrote, "Dare to be naive".

In these days of non-stop irony, cynicism, and the constant overwhelming evidence that the fix is in, that we're all screwed, screwed in ways we can't even imagine, it's hard to be willfully naive, especially since it's so uncool.

One can reasonably argue that the Nisei soldiers who threw themselves into suicide missions were naive to think they weren't simply being used as cannon fodder, but one would be wrong:  So many of them were like my father, who considered that possibility, but rejected it, deciding that this was the chance he was willing to take for his family here in this country.

One can reasonably argue that the No-No Boys and the draft resisters were naive to think that their stand, their statement, could possibly make a difference when the odds were already so stacked against them:  Public opinion, which had already been manipulated to the point where the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese American men, women, and children was deemed necessary despite the fact that it went against the very principles this country was founded upon; a war that is still looked upon as the last "good" war where the enemy was clearly evil and the Allies were clearly good; and a community in which one of the guiding principals was "The nail that sticks its head up gets pounded down."  But again - one would be wrong.  It may have taken decades, and the split in the community certainly is far from healed, but more and more people are looking at history, looking at the statements made by the ten percent of draft age men who either refused to sign the loyalty oath or refused the draft, and understanding that the ones who refused to fight also served the cause of liberty.

One can reasonably argue that it is foolish to think that this split could ever be healed:  After all, most of the people old enough to have either fought in the war or refused to assent to Questions 27 and 28 are either in their 80s and 90s or are already dead.  The common wisdom that I've encountered in trying to address this subject has been this:  You won't get funding.  You won't get an audience.  You won't get support from the community which still regards this subject as a third-rail - untouchable.

I want to honor my parents, who were among the people who went willingly to the internment camps, believing it was their duty as Americans to go along with what their country told them to do.  I want to honor my father, who risked his life in the 442 because this was his country, right or wrong, and he believed that he owed his country the ultimate sacrifice if that's what they asked him to do.  I want to honor the guys who risked everything, including their place in their community, for a principle, one of the bedrock principles upon which this country was founded:  Civil disobedience.

Is that naive?  Then I have plenty of proof in my own heritage that it's worth it to dare to be naive.

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