PEACE ON EARTH
Thomas F. McDaniel
Matthew 5:9 and 7:21
This sermon is probably my last sermon that I will be preaching in Japan. With just about seven weeks remaining before I return to the States, I will be busy from here on visiting as many churches as possible to get a final glimpse of the spirit and strength of Christianity in Japan. In some sense, then, these may be considered as my "last words." As such this sermon will be more a sharing cf some opinions and reactions to the situation in Japan as it relates to the problems of peace in our world. In some points I will be quite critical of what I see, but in other ways I will challenge you to live up to the role of peace-maker, which must now be Japan' s historical destiny.
During the past months several words of Jesus have been recurring in my thoughts. Namely, those appealing words, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God," and the disturbing words, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:9 and 7:21). Let me paraphrase the latter verse by using the words of the former verse: "Not everyone who shouts 'Peace! Peace!' will bring in the kingdom of peace."
This paraphrase expresses my deepest doubts about the peace movement in Japan. For while everyone in Japan is shouting "Peace! Peace!" one feels a resurgence of militarism and a fighting spirit among the same people who are shouting for peace. When I returned to the States in 1961, many people asked, "Is Japan now a really peace loving nation? Will they ever go to war again?" In complete honesty at the time, I answered "yes" to the first question and "no" to the second question, declaring, "Japan was a peace loving nation. Japan would not go to war again." Now when I return to the States, I am certain the same questions will arise. But this time I will have to give different answers, for quite frankly I have my doubts about the sincerity of Japan' s peace posture. Let me explain what I mean. First I agree with the most recent statement of Arnold Toynbee (quoted in last week's Japan Times) that Japan will not again wage war--international war that is! But in my opinion it looks as if Japan will fight again. Lacking now the economic base to wage international war, it seems that Japan is moving to internal conflict to release its new fighting spirit. What's the basis for these opinions? Let me list the reasons very briefly:
(1) The Japanese desire and liking for fighting and violence, as reflected in choice of motion pictures and television programs. It seems unbelievable to me that here in Japan, where there is such strong opposition to the Vietnam war, the motion picture "Green Beret" was such a success and was viewed with pleasure by so many young people and students. So much entertainment is based upon the theme of violence!
(2) The great appeal of slogans. People react too easily to slogans without giving careful attention to who writes the slogans and how they change according to the needs of the political strategists. What ever happened to the slogan "Ban the Bomb"? Do you remember how the slogan heiwa o mamoru ("Keep the Peace!") has been changed this year to tatakai de heiwa o mamor ("fighting, let's keep the peace!"). Next year it will be changed to a simple Tatakai yo! ("Let's fight!"). In the use of slogans, peace has become only a political tool. Accordingly, peace is desirable only when one's party is weak, for who needs peace when one is strong, Then it is time to fight.
(3) The new appeal for revolution. The increasing number of students--high school and university--committed to revolution betrays Japan's peace position. Revolution is war! Although it is civil war--not international war--it is war nonetheless and doesn't make it any better. There is little if any difference between the fighting fanaticism of the revolutionary and the fanatical fighting of the imperial soldier. Both are obsessed with the illusions of being eternal heroes, both thrive on the death and suffering of others. Nevertheless the seeds of revolution are taking root in a strong minority of Japan's youth. What happens then to peace?
(4) Public enjoyment of disorder. Any major confrontation between police and students attracts large crowds of people who watch the conflict as though it were just a new sport, a new game. I happened to be at Akihabara the day when the Yasuda auditorium was taken over by the police. A thousand T.V. sets in the stores made it possible for thousands to watch the battle. And everywhere I looked people were happy and smiling. Molotov cocktails against the police did not bring a sense of horror or tragedy, but a sense of pleasure to so many viewers. For me, as a foreigner, it was not just a battle between student s and police. It was a battle between Japanese and Japanese. While some Japanese fought each other, other Japanese looked on in pure enjoyment and satisfaction.
(5) What happens to Japan's peace position during the "Battle of 1970"? The political objectives of 1970 demand not "peace" but violent demonstrations. Already some people are saying that it will be safer and more pleasant to live in Saigon or Hanoi next year, compared to the prospects of living in Tokyo.
This is enough to explain what I mean when I say that I have my doubts about the depth of Japan's peace program. There is a fighting spirit, a new militancy, an enjoyment of violent demonstrations, a readiness of some Japanese to fight, wound, or even kill other Japanese for political purposes. Thus, as I see it, Japan is no more peace-loving than any other nation.
Who loves peace the most? The Americans, the Russians, the Arabs, the Chinese, the Japanese? Our love for peace is all about the same. We want peace when we are weak, we want peace when it is to our political advantage. This is natural human behavior. And it is precisely for this reason that America needs the Christian faith, that Japan needs the Christian faith, and that Russia and China need a Christian faith. Our national ideologies do not permit pure peace, only political peace.
Enough of my criticisms and concerns. Let me share with you now a dream that I have. It's a dream that combines the best of Japan with the deepest understanding of Christian peace. No other nation stands in a position to lead in world peace as Japan does. And unless Japan accepts her destiny to lead in peace our world may well end in oblivion. War between China and the USA is much more likely than between Russian and the USA, and Japan stands in a unique position between China and the USA. Japan's historic role in the 1970's must be to bring these two great powers to reconciliation. For if Japan cannot, I doubt if anyone can.
Japan's historic appreciation for the richness of Chinese cultures and Japan's contemporary understanding and appreciation of Western and American culture make her the best possible mediator. Japan's adoption of Chinese culture in the past, and Japan's adoption of Western culture in the present has been an excellent preparation to do just this: establish peace between two nations who stand in fear of each other, a fear which could end in the ultimate war. But to do this Japan must stop just shouting about peace, it must lay a wise foundation. Japanese youth must abandon their dreams of revolution and accept instead the discipline of mediator. Japan must demonstrate to both nations that it is a country that knows how to live in peace. To do this Japan must look not only to its own rich and beautiful heritage, it must incorporate in its own national life the Christian concept of peace. Japan must do what America has been unable to do. In the ministry of peace, Japan must become the servant of both China and America. But as servant it can become the master of both.
In closings let me sum up what I have been trying to say in these criticisms and challenges. So much of Japan's peace movement is sheer political jargon. Japanese like everyone else have a fighting spirit. Nevertheless, Japan has a tremendous role, a historic destiny, to be a genuine mediator of peace between world powers. But the political peace movement is not enough, actually it can do more harm than good. Japan must do what others have failed to do, to incorporate the Christian spirit of peace into its very national fiber and life. And therewith, as servant and mediator, to become "peacemakers who shall be called the children of God."
My criticisms of Japan may be wrong, but I trust that my dream will come true. As an American missionary, I look
to the Christian faith--rooted in the life of Japan--to be God's way of bringing peace on earth. May Christ, the
Prince of Peace, grant that Japan become the nation of peace and the servant of peace-for me and my nation, and
for the whole of mankind.