Wow. What an amazing journey and path this man was on. After watching the film, I really wanted to see Watanabe, "the Bird" speak - and found the following clip from 60 Minutes.
First it's Watanabe in his own words - the clip I'm showing is the one where the translation was reportedly done improperly by 60 Minutes the first time around, and a translator clarifies what he had to say. The differences are subtle but important.
Watanabe says clearly that "(You) Caucasians consider beating and kicking as cruel (torture)." Meaning, it's not the same for me. Then he goes on to say "If Zamperini says these things happened, they must have happened." Completely disassociating himself from the acts of torture.
Gee where have I heard the same words said in defense of torture before? Let's see... could it be... Dick Cheney? Here's where he says " "It's not torture if it prevents another 9/11." "We did what had to be done." At least Watanabe didn't claim that what he'd done to Zamperini was justified.
But it's exactly the same.
"It's not torture if we're doing it to save our people."
But let's go beyond that. The key moment in this story happened after Louis Zamperini returned home and was haunted by nightmares of killing "the Bird" out of revenge for his cruelty.
He went to see Billy Graham speak, who counseled him that forgiveness would alter his path and journey. And as he says in this 35 minute interview, I highly recommend watching this if you're a fan of the book and film, that the idea of forgiveness caused him to stop dreaming of The Bird, or having nightmares about him.
(it's 35 minutes, highly recommend this Bob Simon award winning short film made for the Olympics)
That the act of forgiveness, or the thought of compassion towards him allowed him to alter his path and journey.
Science would tell us that the altered the shape of his amygdala with that meditative thought. That's what the research shows out of Richard Davidson's clinic at the University of Wisconsin. That a single meditation on compassion can change depression in a human being - and that meditation, or forgiveness to his enemies, caused Louis Zamperini to emerge from his depression a new person.
And now comes the Flipside part. In "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" volume one, David Bennett talks about his Near Death Experience where in his "life review" he saw that the negative acts of his life reverberated like ripples on a pond.
But David experienced those acts from the point of view of the victim - so when he was kicking the shit out of a guy in a cowboy bar who made the mistake of making a pass at him earlier in his life, David experienced the blows, the blood, the humiliation all from the victim's point of view. He said he experience that negativity, plus all the hatred from everyone in the bar who joined in on beating this poor fellow up.
So let that sink in for a moment - that every blow that the Bird rained down on Louis Zamperini, he is likely experiencing that now - all of the pain and suffering that he engendered during his lifetime. Imagine the feeling of experiencing all of those blows at once - and not only do you experience it, but all of the people in your soul group experience it as well (according to David's account, which was later examined under clinical conditions at the University of Virginia by Dr. Bruce Greyson, and finally reconfirmed during an LBL that David had years after the event, but helped him see it with clarity.)
And conversely, all the joy and happiness and compassion that Louis has created in his life through forgiveness, is reverberating for him now - just as David Bennett (in "Voyage of Purpose") experienced when viewing the positive acts from his lifetime.
So by living this extremely difficult lifetime, and then forgiving those who trespassed against him, Louis Zamperini has given us all a gift that keeps on giving. The lesson of compassion, the gift of forgiveness. It not only heals us, but it reverberates throughout the universe as a positive healing wave.
But don't take my word for it, it's in the science. All that's required is to look for it.
Congratulations to Ms. Jolie and her crew for bringing this film to the planet and allowing his story to be one of healing for those that are able to embrace it. I'm sure Louis is enjoying it from where he is now... back "home."