Ever been “stuck” in a moment in time…..like the whole world moves on, but you. It’s good when the moment is a good moment,,,but something else when it’s a not-so-good moment; say something happened and you blame yourself for the longest time…you decide to play judge, jury and witness on your life and sentence yourself to some sort of torture…probably giving yourself the punishment you think you deserve…
A story is told of a man…a Japanese soldier, Hiroo Onada, who “fought” a war for thirty years…long after the war (World War II) had already ended! 30 whole years after, he was still fighting.
The story is quite long, and I’m pretty sure History scholars can tell it better, but in a nut shell *i will try to make it short*, Hiroo Onada, 20, started his war in 1944…a lot happened in between and eventually he was left with just three of his colleagues…with very little food that they had to ration every now and then and torn clothes. In 1945, they got the first notice that the war had ended, and every other day they found a leaflet in the woods telling them the war had ended and it was okay to surrender and receive full immunity….they didn’t believe any of this for a second. It could have been a hoax for all they knew, and it was punishable in the Japanese army for a soldier to surrender himself to the enemy…so you can’t exactly blame their lack of “faith”.
Leaflet after leaflet, messages from relatives…photographs too. And they still didn’t believe any of it. Years went by and the more isolated they were from the world, the more everyone appeared to be an enemy to them…or so they thought. In 1949, one of Hiroo’s friends surrendered, secretly. He was tired. In 1953, another was wounded during a skirmish and eventually passed on. Hiroo Onada now had one friend left, and they stayed in the woods for nearly 20 more years…until 1972 when his one friend died as well.
This is now 27 years after the war had ended…Hiroo was still “fighting”…and fighting no body in particular. All the notices about the war having ended literally went in through one ear and out the other. He was on mission and was not about to surrender. He was stuck in 1944!
In 1974, some guy called “Suzuki”..for real by the way 🙂 decided to go find Hiroo. He actually did; tried to convince him what the world had been trying to tell him for the last 29 years and made some progress…but Hiroo insisted, he would only take orders from his former commander. Suzuki went back to Japan, found Hiroo’s commander and told him what Hiroo wanted. The commander obliged and agreed to meet Hiroo.
Hiroo Onada got the shock of his life when he met his commander. He couldn’t believe the war had actually ended 30 years earlier! “What have I been doing all this time?” “What did my friends die for then?” He had all these questions and sort of felt like a fool.
In his autobiography – No Surrender: My 30 year War, Hiroo Onada wrote: “I felt like a fool…what had I been doing for all these years? For the first time I really understood…this was the end. I pulled back the bolt of my rifle and unloaded the bullets…I eased off the pack that I always carried with me and laid the gun on top of it..”
So anyway he finally went back to Japan and, he was hailed a hero on arrival.
That is Hiroo Onada’s story but in a way, we all have a story like that of our own…we may not be fighting the world war, but we have our own battles. Battles that we forget were long over before they even started; battles that were won a long time ago by a man who was crucified on a cross. And time and time again, we get reminders…about surrendering it all to him, but we tend to think that we can handle it, or that we can still fight on and probably make it all better by ourselves. Along the way, we hurt more, our friends become strangers, and we end up prolonging and worsening the situation.
With Easter just a few days ago, may we be reminded of the one who conquered the sin of the world. The one who took all the blame for whatever wrong we do, have done or will ever do. And may we learn to pick ourselves up, make peace with HIM, and move on! 🙂