I’m not a historian by any length, but do like to listen to stories. So this morning again on the radio, there were stories. This time, the stories were fist-hand accounts of the day the bomb went off at Hiroshima, it being the 70th anniversary (the kind without a celebration, I’d presume) of this event.
So, background info is the Americans (USAers) bombed the living crap out of Hiroshima on this day in 1945, in the death throws of the Second World War. What a fuck-up. “Oh my gawd, time’s running out, we need to cause more mayhem and destruction while we can even though it serves no purpose except to kill 140 000 people!” they may have panicked.
The stories were read by the Japanese ambassador in South Africa. In his voice was not a trace of resentment or hate, neither a desire for retribution or payback. Just a wish to tell the story, and then to focus on the future. So what stood out, pre-coffee? That on that day, 6 August 1945, the people of Hiroshima were going about their day as best they could in a war situation. They were washing laundry, working at their shops and trades, in the fields, etc. Then, all of a sudden, there was an almighty flash of light, followed by an eery silence, and then, a deafening boom. Those far enough away watched from their windows how people streamed away from this centre of destruction, telling how they saw people whose clothes had evaporated off their bodies, their skin had come loose from their flesh, hanging by the nails. Their faces swollen like loaves of bread just from the oven.
The things humans do to other humans astound me sometimes.
It made me think. Maybe we have our own little Hiroshimas that we encounter every day. Maybe we’re “good” people and we’re just nice all the time, but we still see it in and hear it on the media every day. It’s right there, people being full of crap and letting it explode. Maybe we’re mostly nice and we bottle up our bits of un-niceness, only later to explode like a bomb. Maybe we’re not nice and exploding makes us at least feel better about, well, something for a little while, until the next explosion needs to happen. What a fuck-up.
What I liked about the ambassador is that he also proclaims not to be an historian. He prefers to keep a firm eye on the future, and particularly how it can be better. He’d like people to see how Hiroshima has recovered. He talked about the green fields, the beautiful nature and how the city has been rebuilt, and of how people have moved on. The progress. He’s clearly a man who believes in Hope. We have a few things in common then.
I’m sure he also likes music, just like I do. I have a song that always (always) pops into my head when I think of hope. It’s by Brooke Fraser, C.S. Lewis Song. All the lyrics are good, but the chorus goes:
Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
As I wait for hope to come for me
So, this morning, I woke up, went “Ugh”, looked at the glowing mountains knowing at least that I had another day to work with. After listening to the radio insert, I am reminded to wait again for Hope to come for me. I realise that Faith was with me all night. And Love never left me. May I remember these things and use them to prevent my own Hiroshima(s). May I have the courage to live them out, and be kind in the process.