I once, at my job in Japan, had the pleasure of meeting the great-great-grand-nephew of Commodore Perry. (Quick history lesson: Commodore Perry was the man who, in the 1850’s, anchored a fleet of warships outside the Japanese capital and demanded that Japan open its ports to foreign trade, or else.)
As it turned out, the gentleman I met was also named Matthew Perry. He was an officer in the Navy, and had a special interest in Japan. How funny is that!
Mr. Perry was a humble and personable man, and the Japanese loved him. Clearly there were no hard feelings over historical events. In fact, the way people would exclaim in delight, “Commodore Perry! With the black ships!” when they met him made me curious. Just how did the Japanese view this episode in their history?
So I asked. To summarize, the general feeling was, “Yeah, people might have been scared of the black ships at the time, but now we’re glad we opened the country, so it’s all good.”
What a beautiful spirit, to look past past offenses and say, Yes, but I’m better for having met you.
Looking back on my time in Japan and how it has shaped who I am today, I feel I can wholeheartedly say the same: I’m better for having met you.