8 Luna-Smith Wesley

Spring Break,

Few souls on campus,

Stillness blankets The Hill.




This week’s readings were difficult to get through. I am glad for the recorded history, as a testament to the atrocities of war. Yet, it is truly a dark chapter to visit. While reading, questions arise such as, “How could the Japanese do this?” But as Chang says, “The torture that the Japanese inflicted upon the native population at Nanking almost surpasses the limits of human comprehension” (Chang 87), the key phrase being almost surpasses. I started with the section from the Rape of Nanking finding myself tense, and feeling the weight of sadness steal my breath. By the end, however, I was beginning to feel jaded. Perhaps it was a psychological response to the repeated horrors that occurred at Nanking. Still, I could feel myself resisting the notion that the extent of torture was something unique to the Japanese. Yes, the Rape of Nanking was systematic and swift, but torture is not something unique to the Japanese. Surely, torture has been a human activity for as long as there has been violence. Eventually, I realized the descriptions of torture in Nanking were reminding me of the tales of torture and death sentences that occurred in the Middle Ages. Undoubtedly, there were aspects of Japanese culture that fueled the madness. But as I finished the reading, I couldn’t help but feeling like Japan’s rapid modernization was to blame. With new power (guns) and potentially endless conquests, I can imagine how young, male soldiers would get out of hand. The reality is that torture still happens today; violence continues to plague our Earth. As Inouye says, “modern societies are still too inexperienced, still too ideologically pure, and still too culturally naïve to understand that ‘war-equals-peace’ is only one of many possibilities available to us” (Inouye 129), a statement which will ring true until diplomacy is both the first and the last resort in future conflicts.

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