A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

White Light, Black Rain


Last night I watched an HBO documentary called White Light, Black Rain. It was about the atomic bomb and Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yesterday was the anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima. Thursday will be the anniversary of the destruction of Nagasaki sixty two years ago. Most of the documentary was told by the survivors, many of whom were just children at the time. They describe hell on earth. Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters burned to a crisp. People alive but with no eyes or eyes hanging out of their sockets. Many of the survivors had been burned and disfigured. After the bomb exploded they lived in physical agony due to the burns. One man said the worst thing was the maggots eating through his raw flesh. There were bodies everywhere and little help. Because the city was burning people jumped into the water which soon became filled with bodies. Many of the dead were children. Now most of the population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was born after 1945 and the young people interviewed on the street had no idea of the importance of the date August 6th 1945. Neither did I till last night.

At least 100,000 people died some instantly, others over the next few days. The rest had and have lifelong illnesses along with physical disfigurement. Tumors, brittle bones, cancer. Women had problems with their reproductive systems, many couldn’t give birth and those that did many had deformed babies. Since 1945 the atomic bomb has not been used in war but we now have on earth enough bombs to create over 400,000 Hiroshimas and Nagasakis. The United States and Russia have the most bombs. The United Kingdom, France, China, India, Israel and Pakistan all have nuclear weapons. Several years ago India and Pakistan were on the verge of war and many worried that they would nuke each other. There are fears that North Korea has nuclear weapons and that Iran will soon also.

After the U.S. dropped the bomb on Nagasaki on August 9th 1945 the Japanese surrendered and World War II was over. About three months earlier Hitler had committed suicide and Germany then surrendered to the Allies ending the war in Europe. How necessary was it to use the atomic bomb? A bomb they had only tested less than a month before in New Mexico? The Allies had been winning against Japan but the Japanese had refused to surrender. The Allies planned to attack Japan itself in November of 1945 but the U.S. believed that a million Americans would die if they did and President Truman decided to drop the bomb on mostly innocent civilians instead. But once was not enough for him. He wanted Japan’s immediate surrender and when he didn’t get it he didn’t even wait a week before dropping the second bomb. Were American soldiers lives so much more precious than the innocent lives that were taken or ruined by the bombs? During World War II men freely enlisted. They made a decision to participate in war but what of all the Japanese women and children and elderly who did not. It’s horrible beyond belief that any country would resort to using the atomic bomb, especially against civilians.

Some people believe that having “weapons of mass destruction” helps to keep the status quo but to my mind it just escalates the potential threat. There has been some moves towards partial disarmament especially in the U.S. and Russia but not enough. Part of it is due to a kind of world amnesia about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But how can we protect ourselves from annihilating the world if we don’t take a good hard look at what we have already done? Why do many of us make excuses for killing and destruction? The atomic bomb is more that a means of human destruction, it is a desecration of nature. It is obscene. It should never ever be used again by anyone. Right now we can only pray that it won’t be. I believe in total disarmament. I don’t believe in the validity of war at all. But that is not the world we live in. Somehow we still insist on painting war as some noble pursuit when in fact it is barbaric. For anyone, it is barbaric. More violence is not the solution to violence. It never has been and it never will be. If we tolerate it we proliferate it, we protect it and we say he are helpless against threat without it. And we stop looking for better solutions. We stop believing that a different world can exist.

Change for the better has to start somewhere, why not now? In many ways it is unfortunate but we are the stewards of the earth. If we won’t protect her, who will? We have to move from a world culture that accepts and promotes violence to a world culture that values and protects all life. Forgetting about Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not the way to do that. It’s important to remember.

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