“Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”


Tonight, staring at my Facebook page and feeling despair, squeezed between the power of two national states to oppress and paralyze, my loneliness and demons of my son’s abduction hounding, the ghosts of my tormentors, the abductors of my son, hovering  like Jacob’s angel,  taunting my courage  and the moral obligations and demands of love, I read these friends’ postings:

Taira Sakakibara wrote:

A Left Behind Japanese  Father living in Aichi, Japan has committed suicide. Parent-child separation is a serious violation of human rights and individual dignity. We must hurry to establish legislation to prohibit child abduction. I pray for his soul.

Then my friend Christopher Savoie wrote:

If it is in the Nagoya area,  I can only guess who and am extremely disturbed by this news. Amy and I shall have his whole family in our prayers at service tonight. Especially the child, who will now certainly not know the father, but only the father’s great sacrifice and pain.  Let’s not let his death be meaningless.

Writing under this name, Free Nathanael Teutle Retamoza, another friend in common wrote:

Again I am left dumbfounded!! This suicide can only be considered a natural result of the helplessness and worry for his child  this man lived with every day. It is so sad.  I would have liked to be able to say to him,  “Hold on a little longer and you will be able to see your child. The government is working towards that.”  BUT we all know that is not the case!! This riduculous half-hearted measure with Article 9 is laughable. Does the government think that we cannot read?! Both parents must be recognised!!

Nathanael Teutle Retamoza is a Mexican national who lived many years in the United States who has been rotting in a Japanese jail cell for over 6 months for the crime of trying to enter his home, where his two-year old daughter was inside. He wanted to see his child.

And then, Chris Savoie added this from Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, and the beauty of it convulsed my heart and made me cry out:

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out.  If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a rank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.  Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

As for adopting the ways which the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time,  and a man’s life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong. It is not my business to be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and, if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then?

But in this case the State has provided no way: it’s very Constitution is the evil.

I know that in the same essay, Thoreau also said, “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

I used to carry Thoreau with me on vacations in the mountains.  His writing gave me clarity, and stirred me. Thanks Christopher, for helping me look more squarely at my obligations.

Some 2500 years ago, the psalmist wrote:

I am tossed about, complaining and moaning
at the clamor of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked;
for they bring evil upon me
and furiously harass me.

My heart is convulsed within me;
terrors of death assail me.
Fear and trembling invade me;
I am clothed with horror.

I said,
“O that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and find rest;
Surely, I would flee far off;
I would lodge in the wilderness;

I would soon find me a refuge
from the sweeping wind,
from the tempest.”

Rui and Daddy playing with trains under the clock.

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About Brian Prager

I am the father of a beloved son who has been retained in Japan by his Japanese mother against my will. My boy has been kept out of contact with me since June, 2010. I am struggling to save him and get justice for us.
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