As I was working on my “Where in the World” country profiles I came across the following in a BBC country profile for Japan: “Japan’s relations with its neighbors are still heavily influenced by the legacy of Japanese actions before and during World War II. Japan has found it difficult to accept and atone for its treatment of the citizens of countries it occupied.”

This reminded me of a story from Character Counts (the same place that I found the article “Menschidictorian”):

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.

 This story not only applies to countries, but to people.  We live in a time when some believe that they can do and say the meanest things possible and that they should be forgiven if they speak the word, “Sorry”.