Sadness and Anger of the Poor
One of the most impressive thing I have recently encountered is a composition of a primary school boy.
It was written decades ago or immediately after WWII and included in a book compiled by a notable educator and published around 1951.
At the time, Japan was not fully recovered from the devastation of WWII. And people living in local villages in mountainous areas were still poor, except a case that timber industry provided them with stable incomes. Besides, traditionally villagers in mountainous areas had been poor because they had not enough agriculture fields to grow rice, the staple of Japanese agriculture.
So, they made wood charcoal to sell it to people living in the plain who could grow, harvest, and sell rice and other crops to earn reasonable incomes.
The family of the boy was also poor. His parents made charcoal, too. But the boy knew that a cooperative association in the area bought charcoal at lower prices. Therefore villagers opted to bring the product to villages and towns in the plain by themselves rather than sold it to the cooperative association.
The boy went down mountains to help his parents carry charcoal. Then he saw his parents were looked down on very coolly by residents in a village in the plain. But no matter how coolly they were received, his parents and other charcoal vendors from the mountains begged and adjured arrogant people to buy any of charcoal they carried in over a long way.
The boy felt anger. People living in a village in the plain with sufficient paddy fields treated his parents and other poor vendors of charcoal as if they had not been the same human beings. But he knew any money earned in this business was precious for them.
In sadness and anger, he wrote this hard practice of his parents and other villagers living in mountains. Those people in towns and villages with plenty of rice fields were the same human beings and they were not especially rich. They needed cheap charcoal for their living. But they never hid contempt to those poor vendors from mountains.
As time went by, even Japanese people living in very local areas came to use coal, oil, natural gas, and electricity in a full scale for energy they needed in households. Today charcoal is not used in any local families in Japan, though some restaurants use it for special cooking. Such discriminatory treatment to poor charcoal vendors must have been long forgotten in the Japanese society.
Before WWII, there were many peasants in Japan who cultivated leased rice fields. On the other hand, land owners enjoyed very rich life. This social structure in farm villages was almost unchanged since the era of samurai before the 19th century. And these land owners occupied politics in local areas. Politicians in Tokyo had strong ties with these local rich men. Though all the Japanese men 25 years or older had a voting right, only land owners had money to run for election in local areas.
But when the Empire of Japan fell after WWII in 1945 and the US military occupied Japan, emancipation of farming land was enforced. It was because Americans thought that leaders of the Empire had been strongly supported by local rich land owners. To eradicate the root of the Japanese militarism, General MacArthur and other American generals thought they had to free Japanese peasants who had become strong soldiers of the empire. American rulers probably wanted to be trusted by ex-Imperial soldiers for success of their occupation of Japan.
Accordingly, most of land owners lost their paddy fields. Peasants got the field they had long cultivated almost for free. This measure had a revolutionary effect in the Japanese society. One of the reasons for success of American occupation of Japan after WWII was this emancipation of farming land.
But the drastic measure after WWII applied only to agricultural land owners in the plains but not to those who possessed mountains. Or lands in mountains were not targets of the US-led emancipation of farming land. Mountain owners in Japan could preserve their wealth and estates. Therefore, villagers in mountainous areas were left poor.
Success in economy of Japan in later years hid many ugly aspects of the Japanese society. Factories were built in every local area; people in mountains together with those living in the plain could go and work in those factories to earn enough money. But there might be still such marble hearts in Japanese people, though such cool attitudes to the poor is universal and can be found in any society in the world. In this context, Japan is not exceptional.
But the sadness and anger the boy expressed in his essay must be also universal. The poor really need love of God, since they cannot be loved by the rich and even by the lowest level of the rich.
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Luk 4:24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
Luk 4:25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
Luk 4:26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.