December 17, 1941

Still no raid last night. Soldiers, however, in a fanatical determination to enforce the blackout to the letter, kept firing shots in the air throughout the night to remind lax householders of the rule, contributing almost as much as a wave of enemy bombers to keeping the city restless in bed.

The war has disrupted transportation and I had to walk, with the majority, to the office, arriving –as usual but now with a good excuse– late.

The war is making city dwellers learn to use their legs. Many of us are, physically, more fit than we were when the war broke out. It is the ill wind that blows somebody good –this war– and we ought to feel grateful, I suppose.

While drinking coffee in a Chinese restaurant this morning, I heard one man reassure another thus:

“To admit fear of the Japanese is to admit that you are not as good as they are, which is ridiculous. We are better than the Japanese. Our standard of living is better.”

Give him a gun, he said, and he would establish without delay the superiority of that standard of living.

“Meanwhile,” I offered, “have a cup of coffee on me.”

There followed a long discussion regarding Japan’s reason for her unquestionably suicidal attack on the United States. It was all pure speculation, of course, but each man;s tone was that of one handing down dogma. This is the people’s war. All the people, combatant and civilian, are in it. All, by reason of direct experience, are expert witnesses and should be heard.

“Japan was being licked, slowly but surely, in China. She could neither give up the war nor finish it. She was being beaten, at the same time she could not admit defeat at the hands of the ‘inferior’ Chinese. The war she had been carrying out against them for more than four years, she still persisted in calling an ‘incident’. She cannot come home and say she has lost it. She must look elsewhere, to somebody else, to a more worthy foe. To lose, for instance, to the United States and Britain, anyone can explain that. That would be perfectly understandable. That would be defeat without too great loss of face. An honorable disaster. The Japanese people could not complain.”

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