August 05, 2010

Hiroshima, 65 Years Later

Tomorrow marks the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Well over 100,00 people lost their lives, with many more sickened by the radiation. A few days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, with similar results.

I remember the day in fifth grade when I first understood the destructive capabilities humans possess. Up until that point, I had thought that it was a joke. Literally. I had watched "Marvin the Martian" cartoons, in which Marvin threatens to destroy the earth, and found them hilarious. But on that day, I found out that the ability to destroy the earth was fact, not fiction. I was terrified.

Suddenly, Marving the Martian cartoons didn't seem so funny.

65 years after the bombing of Hiroshima, there are still debates regarding whether it was necessary. President Truman told the American people, who weren't quite comfortable with their nation's new nuclear strategy, that it saved the lives of thousands of U.S. servicemen. In subsequent speeches, the number of saved lives grew until it reached one million. That number seemed to satisfy the Americans that the attack was, indeed, worth it. However, at that point in the war, Japan was already weakened, and negotiations for surrender were already under way. At the time General Eisenhower estimated that dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima would save 40,000 U.S. lives, not one million.

Whether it was worth it or not, we have ever since lived in a nuclear age. As a kid I learned "duck and cover" drills, which were ridiculous attempts to convince us that we could survive a nuclear attack (although they ended up being good drills for what to do in an earthquake). And whenever I stop and think about it for too long, the terror I felt in fifth grade returns, for we still live in a world that is under the threat of destruction by nuclear attack.

This year, for the first time, a top U.S. official is attending the memorial service in Hiroshima. This is a good thing. But more still needs to be done. It still seems to me that it's only a matter of time before another nuclear weapon is used against innocent people, and I'm afraid that it's more likely than not that I will witness this in my lifetime.  I can only imagine what our Creator thinks of all this.

Below is a video I saw via a link at Brian McLaren's blog. Check it out.

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