A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain. Louie thought: Let go.
Writing of his childhood in slavery, Frederick Douglass told of being acquired by a man whose wife was a tenderhearted woman who had never owned a slave. “Her face was made of heavenly smiles and her voice of tranquil music,” Douglass wrote. She lavished him with motherly love, even giving him reading lessons, unheard of in slaveholding society. But after being ordered by her husband to treat the boy like the slave he was, she transformed into a vicious “demon.” She, like the Ofuna guards more than a century later, had succumbed to what Douglass called “the fatal poison of irresponsible...
For these men, the central struggle of postwar life was to restore their dignity and find a way to see the world as something other than menacing blackness. There was no one right way to peace; every man had to find his own path, according to his own history. Some succeeded. For others, the war would never really end. Some retreated into brooding isolation or lost themselves in escapes. And for some men, years of swallowed rage, terror, and humiliation concentrated into what Holocaust survivor Jean Améry would call “a seething, purifying thirst for revenge.”