The events which have been prophesied have taken place. When the war with Japan began the leaders promised many reverses before victory could be expected. Now the fall of Singapore and the threat of Japanese aggression in every place in the far east is a stark reality. On the Pacific coast preparation is being made for every emergency. The people have not only experienced a peaceful black-out but have also been rudely awakened by the thunderous firing of anti-aircraft guns. Whether it was for practice for the army or the populace is not the point. It seemed to bring the war very close to our shores. The feeling and experience of preparation is common to all. Many young men have had the experience of going to the training camps; some even to distant places of combat. Young Americans steadily are being inducted into the sacrifice for country. That the world situation is grave everyone realizes now. America, at first confident, now expresses itself about the future sometimes with a doubt. It has the feeling of confidence yet but realizes that our war effort may be too late. Therefore the urge in every department by our leaders for increased production.
In the very near future more strategic and valuable places in the far Pacific may fall into the hands of the Japanese. Though the war really was understood to be against Germany the Japanese seem to have diverted attention entirely to their effective attack upon the Allies. Today they attract all the attention of Americans. Perhaps in the spring other events on the German front will be recorded.
In the midst of these many important events which are taking place so rapidly we probably would rather hear some facts about the nations with whom we are fighting and those against whom we must defend ourselves. This big world has become so much smaller in so short a time and has brought distant peoples and places into close neighborly contact that we have hardly had time as common folk to get acquainted with their history and background. We cannot, as you well understand even attempt a background of the nations of the far east which are destined to play an important role in future history. But there may be some points which are worth mentioning to gain an understanding of the great importance of the conflict in the far east. The nations of the Asiatic continent have for a long time been looked upon by serious Bible scholars as the nations of the four quarters of the earth mentioned in the Apocalypse of John.
Japan from the point of view of military strength is the strongest nation of the far east. It has a population of 72 million. But in addition it controls a great number of people for purposes of its war machine in Manehuko and Korea. Her aim has been expressed in the well-known expression, “Asia for the Asiatics.” She gave the expression special emphasis because she desired to realize and maintain such a condition. In about one generation Japan has risen to a powerful and modern nation.
China has existed according to its leaders for about five-thousand years. It has a population of about 450 million. Her rulers were imperialistic and as the late Manchu dynasty sometimes very selfish and therefore an obstacle for the so-called progress of China. But since her struggle for her very existence began with Japan she has become decidedly democratic under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek.
India has long been under the rule of England. Much trouble has it been for Britain. It has about 352 million inhabitants. A strong feeling of nationalism has arisen under the leadership of the pacifist Gandhi who has caused no little trouble for Britain.
Among these people which are the brown and yellow race, closely related to one another, strange things are happening. Easily can it be said that these nations are being born again, even under the leadership, because of necessity, of the western powers. Whatever the outcome of the war the far east will be entirely different than it ever was before as far as rule is concerned. This can be said of all nations also, but especially of the Asiatic nations. They are awakening. As the editor of the Los Angeles Daily News pointed out it is one of the most surprising developments that are taking place today and the Chinese and Indians take to the production of modern machinery as ducks take to water.
Furthermore there is the strange mission of Chiang Kai-Shek to India and his meeting with the seventy-three year old Mohandas K. Gandhi. For centuries the British have discouraged any attempt at collaboration between China and India. Now in order to obtain support for defense against extinction of British rule in the far east they encourage such a mission. The Generalissimo advised England in a wishful expression that India should be granted home rule. Other leaders including Pearl S. Buck are stressing democracy for the people of the Orient. They maintain the principles of the Atlantic Charter, as the president himself said, are for the whole world. However, as usual, there is, to quote Ernest K. Lindley in the Newsweek, “a thick vein of opposition among American officials to proclaiming an Eastern charter of freedom.” And, whenever such a ruthless opposition gets into the saddle the grand schemes of world builders are spoiled. Such was always history. Dreams of union and peace were always destroyed by the greedy opposition. “The best laid schemes o’ men an’ mice gang aft a-gley,” the world itself writes and quotes. God shall laugh at them we read in the Word of God. Although to be sure, according to the Bible, God ordains an attempt at organization and union which shall reach a climax in the Antichristian power; but then He shall quickly and finally destroy all that is not of the kingdom of His Beloved Son.
We can easily see how that the position of the nations of the world hangs somehow together with this Asiatic question. The near future and the distant future welfare of the United Nations including our country depends upon the attitude and its execution now taken. Many injustices have been committed. Besides, as one leading columnist wrote about the fall of Singapore, “the prestige of the white man has fallen.” Any misstep on our part will close the door of Asia to us and ultimately threaten our safety. To quote Ernest K. Lindley again, “One of the most momentous political questions since the seafarers of Western Europe began to explore the globe and acquire empires in the fifteenth century is rapidly coming to a head. That is whether to renounce once and for all the traditional colonial system and to welcome the native peoples of the East as full partners in the war against the Japanese.”
Current Attitudes. “With ears bent” the Christian reader of the news today is undoubtedly more interested in the attitudes of the leaders which mold the attitudes of the people, than even in the events themselves. The allied nations are facing the crisis of their history. In that crisis Churchill reshuffled his cabinet and pointed to America as their only hope in the dark hour of their history. The President of the United States spoke again to the nation, which sensed the gravity of their cause. What is the attitude of the leaders of the world in this crisis of civilization?
We know the attitude of the Axis powers. Their leaders in their dictatorial roles only blast out confidence to their peoples. They base their confidence in their meticulous preparation which has gone on for many years. They pledge in no uncertain terms the attainment of their objectives. It seems as though the hand of God which is revealed in the snow and in the lice cannot stop them.
The attitude of Chiang Kai-Shek is interesting, to take up the side of the Allies. In the preface to his wife’s book, “China Shall Rise Again,” published in 1940, he writes, “For the rebirth of a people certain factors are necessary. Of these one is that the people should go through a period of trials and tribulations.
“The most important, however, is that the people must have full confidence in their national destiny. . . .
“The Chinese have a culture and a history of more than five thousand years. They are now being threatened with extinction by the ruthless aggression of Japan. In this unprecedented crisis, their national spirit has risen to the occasion: the longer they fight, the more determined becomes their will to survive and conquer. “In writing this volume, the author has striven, as her religion and her patriotism have dictated to her, to point out the many shortcomings of her people which must be remedied, if China is to be regenerated.
“If a person can stand up to these questions; (questions of self-analysis which he enumerated, L.D.) wash his heart clean of past faults of character; turn his face to the future with determination to carry on the good fight, then only will he deserve the name of warrior in China’s struggle for regeneration.
“He must feel it in his bones that his people are fundamentally sound, and their present confusion and weakness only temporary.”
This is a typically democratic and western thought as is the content of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek’s book. She was educated in the United States. She writes the book and expresses all her ideas under the theme, “Resurgam,” the Latin for, I shall rise again. She saw that word written on an odd stone in the portal of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.
Our President in his confident and yet cautious speech referred to the days of George Washington and quoted the words of Tom Paine who wrote then, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” Further, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the sacrifice the more glorious the triumph.” “So speak Americans today!” said the President.
Along with these leaders, men in various departments of life are speaking their mind for the post-war world. Vice-president Wallace writes in The Atlantic, of January, “Foundations of the Peace,” “The overthrow of Hitler is only half the battle; we must build a world in which our human and material resources are used to the utmost if we are to win a complete victory.” As one of the proposers of an ever normal granary he says that he hopes it may be realized on a world-wide scale, “A World Ever Normal Granary.”
Alongside of such visions the expressions of God seem out of date. When one speaks about the future as the Bible foretells it so often, for example, in Matt. 24 and in Revelations it seems like a fanatical revivalist or a pessimist preaching the world is coming to an end. So it was in the days of Noah when he was building the ark. Bending his ears the Christian detects that which was spoken by Christ, many are saying, here is Christ and there is Christ, “Follow not after them.”