The year is 1945. The day is December 25th. It is Christmas in Japan. World War II is over and Japan is in very bad condition. American airplanes dropped many, many bombs all over this country. Many people were killed, and there was so much terrible damage. It was good that the war was over. And it was good to try to make a new start for a new Japan, with new peace, but it was probably very, very hard too.
On December 25th, the Emperor of Japan sent a Christmas present to General MacArthur. The man who carried the gift was a man named Shirasu Jirou. Shirasu-san came to the American general with the gift from the Emperor. The general said, “Put it on the floor”. Shirasu Jirou did not. A gift from the Emperor is not something you put on the floor. A gift from the Emperor needs to be received properly and respect is very important to remember in every situation. In the end, Shirasu Jirou put the gift from the Emperor on the table and then left.
But we can understand the incredible pressure and the unbelievable feeling that Shirasu Jirou felt at that moment. It would be easy to just do what the general from the big American army said. It would be easy to obey. But he did not. He stayed strong. He stayed correct. He stayed connected to the idea of what is right.
This problem is one that we see many times. A person who has power sometimes can use the power like a weapon. They can push other people. They can control other people. They can demand that other people follow.
It is very difficult, and very scary to fight people with power.
Nelson Mandela in South Africa fought the government that was cruel to black people. Mahatma Ghandi fought for peace in India. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for rights in America. A man in Peking, in 1990 in Tiananmen Square stood alone in front of a row of army tanks.
These are all examples of people who were strong, who were correct, and who were very, very brave to fight dangerous people who had power.
To do the right thing, and to not be afraid when powerful people are dangerous to society is very difficult. We need to be safe, and we need to do what we can to keep our friends and family safe too. Sometimes we must wait and be patient before we can fight a dangerous powerful person. Sometimes we need to be very careful to find the right time to make a good action.
One thing that we know is that dangerous powerful people usually do not like education. This is something we see in history many times where bad governments burn books or try to control learning in schools. And this is why we must always be grateful to work hard in school too. Education, and learning, and understanding science and our world are very important to make a good society.
At Otemae you have one of the best educations in the world. Here you learn history, science, art, music, sports, English, and literature. An educated mind cannot be controlled easily by bad people. An educated person is a free person, and an intelligent person, and a strong person. Maybe you think that your study time is only for tests. But that is not true. Your study, and your knowledge of science and art and language, makes you a strong person, and a person to make our society and world better. Be strong. Be smart. Be educated. Be correct.