Thursday, May 10, 2007

Carnival of Hope Reminder

Please remember that the CoH deadline is 5:00 PM PDT today. You still have time to send me submissions!

And speaking of hope, here's a moving story:

One of my students, a woman my age, has a Japanese mother who was in the WWII U.S. internment camps. That's a really shameful chapter of United States history, one that -- as my student points out -- we'd do well to think about when we consider what's happening at Guantanamo now. Six of my student's aunts and uncles were in the camps, too.

My student said that her relatives' lack of bitterness about their experience is remarkable. Although they suffered greatly in the camps, they're the most patriotic people she knows, and many have served in the U.S. military.

In 1988, the U.S. government officially apologized to the former internees, and sent each a reparation check of $20,000. Although her family is by no means wealthy, my student's mother, and her aunts and uncles, all sat down with a lawyer and wrote a letter explaining that they were returning the money. One of my student's aunts had given birth to twins while she was in the camp, and one of the twins had cerebral palsy. The family specified that the $140,000 they were returning to the government should be used to help children with CP.

My student said, "If it had been me, I would have kept the money." I think I probably would have, too. But in class that day, we'd been talking about how many people work through pain and grief by somehow turning their loss into a benefit for other sufferers -- think organ donation, memorial scholarship funds, victims' support groups -- and this is a wonderful example of how seven people did just that.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Dear Susan,

    Reading this story about your class made me think that if there's room on your stack of summer books, and if you haven't read it already, you might like this one - Martha Minow, "Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence," published by Beacon in 1998. She also has a more recent one, which I have yet to read but which looks equally compelling, called "Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair," out from Princeton in 2002. She teaches law at Harvard, but her concerns go way beyond technical details of legal practice alone into all the most interesting ethical areas of life.

    Have a great summer whatever you do or don't read,



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