No More Hiroshima

HIROSHIMA by Tad Mitsui

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The day was promising to be a hot humid day, in the morning of August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima. At about 8:30 a.m., "All clear" siren signaled that enemy bombers had left and it was safe to go out for work. Only a few people saw a parachute slowly coming down with a dangling bomb about a size of a wrecking ball. It exploded in mid-air for a maximum deadly effect on humans. More people remembered a flash of blinding, intensely bright white light like a thousand suns, and a second later earsplitting bang. Little did they realize that, at that very moment, a few hundred thousand people were vaporized and completely disappeared in a split second. Those who survived the initial blast would have wished they died with them. They wandered around the city totally naked and hairless as the heat of explosion burned off their clothes and hair. Their skins were burned black and peeling off. There was hardly any medical service left in the city. And no shelter or tree to protect them in the agony. They died within a week from severe radiation sickness. Many thousands continued to die for decades due to the effect of radioactive particles that rained down on them. On August 6, 1990, Muriel and I attended the annual Memorial Service at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which was attended by tens of thousands of people. On that day, close to a hundred names were added to the list of victims who died that year as the result of radiation poisoning from 45 years previous. Some had sustained this poisoning as fetuses in their mothers’ wombs. That was the first nuclear bomb dropped on humans. The second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki a few days later. A week later, Japan surrendered to the allies ending the most devastating war the world had ever known.

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In 2004, our planet saw the most devastating natural disaster when a huge tsunami hit Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. An estimated 300,000 people perished. It was a terrible tragedy. But compared to the number of deaths caused by natural disasters like cyclones, earthquakes, hurricanes, and that tsunami are eclipsed by the number during the Second World War. It is estimated that about 50 million people died, about two third of whom were civilians. The death due to wars did not end in 1945. During the 60 years that followed, still millions continued to died in wars. The reason we don’t realize this is because they died in many places and in many conflicts. There are 29 ongoing armed conflicts in the world today. When you sum up all the number of casualties, it is estimated that more than one million people died in 2006. The wars still go on.

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Humans are the only species who kill each other en mass within the family of the same species. Most other creatures don’t kill their own kind in such a scale. When I think of this incredible human stupidity, I often wonder if we really are created in the image of God. We have never learned from Jesus who said two thousand years ago that "One who draws a sword will die by the sword." Yet we continue to behave as though weapons will resolve conflicts and differences. Weapons are expensive – they cost billions. In comparison, how much money have we spent to find solutions in dialogues and negotiations?

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The United Church of Canada, with your contribution to the M & S Fund, supports Project Ploughshares, a research and advocacy coalition of many churches and peace-loving organizations. Project Ploughshares advocates the elimination of all nuclear weapons along with peaceful resolutions in international conflicts and the protection of vulnerable populations like those who died that day in August in 1945. They work towards the world where there will be no more Hiroshima.

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