Conviction, Cost and a Hero’s Welcome
The news of the death of a former WWII Japanese imperial soldier gives us cause to pause and ponder the indomitable force of the human spirit.
Instilled with a ferocious loyalty to the Empire, Hiroo Onoda chose to go into hiding in the jungles of the Philippines rather than personally choose to surrender to Allied forces in the waning days of WWII. His conviction and values mattered infinitely more than comfort. To Onoda, pain was preferable to the shame of surrender.
Onoda’s story became legendary throughout Japan in the following years. Contact was attempted on multiple occasions. It was discovered the only way Onoda would formally surrender is if his former superior authorized him to do so in a face-to-face meeting.
There is a passage in ancient wisdom literature that contrasts individuals who live with conviction and those who live with shame. Isaiah 50:7 states: “Therefore, I have set my face like a stone…and I know that I will not be put to shame.”
Shame requires only the denial of acting on conviction. It cowers in the corner afraid of obstacles. Shame lacks loyalty. It results in mediocrity and inspires no one.
Conviction beckons difficulty with open arms. Conviction embraces the cost and welcomes all who participate to expect temporary pain in order to achieve greatness. Conviction inspires others.
In March of 1974, Onoda's superior ordered him to surrender. He emerged from the jungle wearing a worn, patched uniform and a sword. His journey of 29 years was over. Japan welcomed home a hero.
-nick rogers - team FTG