I left China behind this morning at around 5:30 AM and at once started on the last part of Our Oriental Heritage, Japan. Keeping in mind that this particular book was published in 1935 (and therefore written some years before), I found this passage particularly interesting:
The third act is modern Japan, opened up in 1853 by an American fleet, forced by conditions within and without into trade and industry, seeking foreign materials and markets, fighting wars of irrepressible expansion, imitating the imperialistic ardor and methods of the West, and threatening both the ascendancy of the white race and the peace of the world. By every historical precedent the next act will be war.
pp. 829, emphasis mine.
What impresses me about the passage is the ability of the author to see so clearly where things were heading. Maybe everyone in 1930 could see war with Japan on the horizon, but I don’t think so. We tend to be too inwardly focus to see the signs until right before it is upon us. It takes a historian, one with the vast context of all of history laid out before him, to see and identify the patterns and cast off a warning that we should learn from history lest we repeat our mistakes again and again.
The Japanese have studied our civilization carefully, in order to absorb its values and surpass it. Perhaps we should be wise to study their civilization as patiently as they have studied ours, so that when the crisis comes that must issue either in war or understanding, we may be capable of understanding.