I am writing about Hiroshima for my Japanese art class–not about the bombing, but about the memorials and how they relate to earlier rituals and representations of death. My memory of what I saw at Hiroshima has not diminished, and I feel that dealing with this arcane art history topic is a little like having that elephant in the room that no one wants to see. To make up for ignoring the main issue I have been reading Hiroshima in America, a book that recalls the history of our use of the bomb, the distortions we created in the aftermath of its use, and how it affects our current policy about nuclear weapons.
I was 14 years old when we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don’t remember much about it; only a discussion I had with two of my older cousins. They knew little more than me, but all three of us were confused and ignorant (along with the whole country). It took years for the whole story to become known. Our leaders did not want to acknowledge the truth, did not want us to know we were not the "good" people we want to think we are. All reports about Hiroshima and Nagasaki were censored (by us) for years afterward. We lost the opportunity to hear the stories of the survivors and to decisively influence how the world thinks about nuclear arms. Instead of acknowledging what we created, we have become mired in the argument about whether the Japanese "deserved" the bomb, and it has enabled us to think about the bomb as just another weapon.
My visit to Hiroshima was a stunner. They’ve done an amazing job of conveying the horror and devastation; every world leader who thinks about nuclear weapons should be required to visit. We have forgotten our fear of the bomb, or we’ve become inured to it. This is something we should never forget.
Thanks to Charna, who diligently sends me news about climate change, species destruction and other things that upset her, I learned that our government has a plan to build more nuclear weapons–as if we don’t already have enough to destroy the entire world.
I took the following from the Union of Concerned Scientists website:
Despite the fact that the United States maintains hundreds of
nuclear-armed missiles on high alert, the administration still wants to
upgrade the entire U.S. nuclear weapons complex. This new
proposal–called "Complex Transformation"–would return the U.S. to a
Cold War cycle of designing, developing, and producing new nuclear
weapons. Fortunately, a mandatory environmental review allows you to
submit comments on this ill-advised draft plan. Please write
today–we don’t need the capacity to build NEW nuclear weapons; we need
to take the lead in moving closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.