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On Pearl Harbor

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I am as patriotic toward America as the next Canadian person. I celebrate Canada Day before 4th of July. I have my Thanksgiving before American Thanksgiving. I take advantage of their Black Friday Sales once in a while. On a warmer day I may even feel a sense of superiority. We have healthcare; we don’t have one fifth of the world’s prisoners and we are not currently building a stupid wall in the desert.

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Let us get one thing straight though. (Here is where I may lose some of you proud Canucks) We are the “True North Strong and Free” because AMERICA WANTS US TO BE! We have the world’s longest undefended border because Uncle Sam made it so. They can defend their border any day of the week. What’s Canada going to use for defense? Armoured mooses and flying beavers? Canada doesn’t have or need nukes because America says: “don’t worry about it, we got this.” My point is, despite all her shortcomings, America is a pretty damn good neighbour to have. A neighbour who spells it ‘neighbor’ but she is a friend worth keeping nevertheless.

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Scale model of the USS Arizona Memorial

I visited our friend’s sore spot – Pearl Harbor. Seventy-one years ago thousands of Americans lost their young lives here. America was dragged into a war that would last many more years and cost the world millions of lives. The general accepted narrative is very simple. Japan wanted to expand and America stood in the way. Japan needed to take American out of the game by force so she attacked Pearl Harbor. American responded like a waking giant and defeated Japan. Peace and prosperity now reign supreme.

However, world history is not a Disney movie. The plotline is not two dimensional: Good triumphs over Evil. Let us put on the Real 3D Glasses for the story of Pearl Harbor.

It all begun when western colonists and missionaries pressed their advantages around the globe. With superior weapons technology and little moral reservations the west dominated the world. Hawaii was annexed by 162 armed American sailors. With gunships mooring at their ports, their Queen was forced to accept reality and step down. At the time Japan protested this unlawful act, but their words fell on deaf ears. The islands are halfway between US and Japan, they were inhabited by Asians. Why should it go to America? It is for one reason and one reason only: Might makes Right.

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Model of Akagi, Japanese carrier used in the attack of Pearl Harbor

So Japan started to gain Might. It industrialized and modelled herself after the western powers. Her aim was to beat the west at their own game. Over a period of fifty years or so Japan caught up and started to push back. When WWII broke out in Europe, Japan saw the opportunity to make a bold move. Thus, Pearl Harbour.

What? if anything can we learn from all of this? What do you say to your children when they ask: “Was Japan bad? Was America Good?”

Here is what we can say. In life we all want prosperity and peace. The only way to get these things is to surround yourself with good neighbours who want the same things. On a planet as small as ours we are all neighbours whether we like it or not. Therefore we are responsible for each other’s prosperity and peace in addition to our own.

Over the last two hundred years people have forgotten this fact, and took things by force from neighbours. This resulted in much tragedy, injustice and strife among the peoples of the world. One such breaking point was Pearl Harbor. There, one people thought their survival was dependent on striking a fatal first blow at one of her neighbours who was seen as a bully in the area. The truth is they are both wrong.

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USS Missouri State Park

Lasting prosperity and peace must be shared with ALL the people of the world. Like Canada and America, all borders should eventually be undefended. Ironically, I say this while standing on the deck of one of the biggest battleship ever built, the USS Missouri. Its nine 16″ guns can decimate a small city 22 miles away in a matter of minutes. It is so enormous that it literally has its own postal code. There is so much metal here it creates its own magnetic field. What was the end in mind when men were building this ship? World peace or world domination?

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Onboard USS Missouri General MacArthur declared the end of WWII. I think it is more appropriate to declare a species evolution point. From this point forward, let us declare that fighting each other with violence in order to gain advantage is beneath us. We do not tolerate this behaviour in our children, why do we condone it in nations? The only way to realize our true potential as a species is by accepting that WE ARE ALL NEIGHBOURS, and we can only be truly happy when the happiness is shared.

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To evolve past our old selves is the only way to ensure a tragedy like Pearl Harbor will never be repeated. This is the only way to ensure more than two thousand young souls rest in peace in their watery grave beneath the aqua green waves of Hawaii. I honour you; I remember you; I respect you but I do not want my children’s children to share your fate. Peace on Earth, friends and old neighbours.

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USS Arizona, the tomb of more than a thousand young men.

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