Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. — Ernest Hemingway

Finished watching The Burmese Harp (Biruma no tategoto) last night. Moving story of a Japanese soldier in Burma at the end of World War Two & the events that lead him to become a priest. During an early scene in the movie we see he is a sensitive man. In his last words to his comrades returning to Japan he states that he has committed himself to burying the dead and comforting those who are suffering.

Like the hero of this film we find ourselves in a broken world. We, too, must comfort our fellow sufferers.
Journal note, June 24, 1993

Around 1990 or so my wife and I befriended a street person named Robert Lookup who lived in Duluth’s Seaway Hotel. His life consisted primarily of watching movies and visiting the library. When I first met him, he showed me the fruit of a major project he had undertaken. Robert was a lover of trains. Combining this passion with his love of movies, he had committed himself to watching every movie in the library and rating it based on the accuracy of its presentation of the trains therein.

For example, an Abbott and Costello film received demerits because while the story took place in Florida, on the wall was a Pennsylvania Railroad calendar. This would never happen, he emphatically stated. In retrospect, I would venture that no other movie goer of our generation ever noticed this faux pas.

I mention Robert because of his special love of obscure films with dark themes. The Burmese Harp was such a film, flooding the screen in stark black and white imagery, a tragic tale of a sensitive man awakened to the horror and futility of war. Without Robert’s urging I would never have seen this moving film. Robert was a sensitive man himself who no doubt identified with its hero.

As we read today’s headlines, we understand that our 21st century world is no rose garden. It is a world littered with sorrows, with hurting people who need a message of hope. Let’s commit ourselves to being part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

Originally published at
Photo taken by Wilmer A. Wagner while in the service in WW2.
Family archives.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store