The Second World War began when I was five years old, and continued until I reached eleven years. I remember reading the accounts in the daily newspapers, especially towards the end, about the downfall of Mussolini and his sticky end; about the gruesome discoveries made in the concentration camps of Germany, and of course, the dropping of the first atomic bomb on those hapless people of Japan.
I can still remember images of Adolph Hitler as he harangued the crowds of mesmerized followers, and I remember being very impressed by the extravagant displays of pomp and grandeur in his political rallies. Now, of course, the splendour is gone, and only the memories of the horrors seem to remain.
There are people of my acquaintance who vow and declare that they will never forgive Germany or Japan for the atrocities they infllicted on humanity. Indeed they declare forcerfully that we MUST NOT either forgive or forget, since they are convinced that this is the only safeguard against having it all happen again.
I disagree wholeheartedly. Jesus admonished us that unless we practice forgiveness towards our enemies, our Heavenly Father cannot forgive us our trepasses. Besides, the people who perpetrated those evils are long gone, or most of them are, and the people who now live in Germany and Japan are not only innocent of the wrong-doing of their forbears, but they are forced to bear the shame of knowing what was done.
May I therefore plead a word for the countries which were our former enemies? Spare a thoulght for the German teenagers who find the knowledge of the holocaust hard to bear, and for the young Japanese growing up in a country which refuses to acknowledge what was done in the name of war. How can they know when the truth is not written in their history books?
As for preventing it from happening again, we might as well try to dam the ocean. Human nature,(without the influence of a compassionate God) will do what it has always done. It is only when time is swallowed up in Eternity that we will finally know the lasting peace which comes from relationship with our Creator.