Dear Nichi Bei Weekly,
It is heartbreaking to read of the continued hurt and controversy over Mr. Wakasa’s memorial stone. Especially painful are the continued invalidating messages that only add to the trauma.
Forgiveness can only come as a consequence of healing, a conscious choice that cannot be forced, and as an expansion of compassion.
Every time some new information comes to light — or in this case, literally unearthed — it opens these deep wounds of trauma. It is no surprise there is both anger and sorrow: A great betrayal happened with the imprisonment of Japanese Americans. Apologies from the government, from museum boards, etc., do not mean much without both a trust-building and a grieving — a release of the anger and crying over what happened. It does not surprise me that some felt pressed into the re-experiences of the loyalty question trauma. It is invalidating to say that that emotional flashback was “preposterous.” A compassionate approach is to be aware of (and) listen to, the different ways everyone is feeling hurt, to honor and appreciate everyone’s perspectives. Respectful expression and listening are critical.
Everyone’s family did the best they could with an unjust impossible situation, no matter how they marked questions 27 and 28. (If I recall correctly, those impossible loyalty questions).
Many of us have PTSD, or complex PTSD, as a result of the traumas our families have experienced. Sensitivity training to the enduring trauma engendered by the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans would aid the board, staff, survivors and descendants so we can be more kind and compassionate to one another, rather than escalating the hurt.
Trust is built with small steps in an environment where everyone feels safe.