Well, we only had a couple of days in Hiroshima – a surprisingly populous city (home to over 1 million people) that lies on the Southern end of Japan’s main island – Honshu. Ordinarily I would consider this a very short time and leave with a hyper-awareness of everything that I had missed out on. But this time round I think two days is probably all I could have handled. Which is not to say that I hated Hiroshima, that’s not why at all! It was that being there.. was so emotionally exhausting.
I think that as members of the privileged Western World we (for the most part) cannot claim ignorance to the events that surrounded the dropping of not one, but two atomic bombs on the people of Japan at the end of World War Two.. And if you actually don’t know what I am talking about.. Then you need to do the whole world a favour and go and do some fucking research! This’ll get you started: LEARN SOMETHING
….Geeze, immediately in undertaking to write this blog, the emotions that hit me during my visit to Hiroshima have come, screaming, back into my head. And they’re manifold. I mean, look, first of all this ‘event’ was a sad, tragic, horrible, devastating, truly fucked up thing to happen to a POPULATION worth of people.. It’s sad as shit. But because nothing like it has happened in the history of the world – not before or since- it’s impossible from the outset to describe how it felt to reach, even a remote understanding, of the devastation that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima caused. No previous author has had to come up with words big enough to be worthy of this event. No multi-purpose adjective is suitable. Atomic warfare creates new rules and as such, demands a new language – one which I am, gladly, not privy to.
And although, of course, I understand that mass life-losses have occurred the world over, again and again and again and again in human history. No single event has ever destroyed this many lives instantaneously. Which means that although there is existing literature of war and famine and dictatorship and terrorism and natural disaster and mass suicide.. words cannot be bent to rightly describe this. So bare with me..
80,000 people. A blip on the radar. A flick of a switch. A nod of a head. Gone.. Incinerated where they stood. Souls, whose bodies left no remains. Years and years of training to be this thing that we call human.. All for nothing. All condemned by a foreign stranger, so simply. All gone.
…. This isn’t something you can just read, this is something you have to feel. This is something you have to understand. Because if we can do this to one another and claim ignorance and feel nothing.. Then how can we possibly justify our existence?
And trust me, I am no supporter of the human race. For the most part, I think that when we kill each other, it’s a blessing on the earth – which we, generally, knowingly, SHIT ON on a daily basis. And although that does apply literally, our actual human faeces is the least of it.. What I’m really talking about here is our astonishing, self-righteous ability to justify the atrocious way we live – Carbon emissions, green house gasses and climate change. Ocean acidification, sonic-blasting and trawling. De-forestation, mining and blood-diamonds. The production of waste on an astronomical scale. The mass extinction of every other species on earth. The development of a food system that is dominated by conglomerates and exploits land, animals and people to make a profit in a way which is not only unsustainable but also, absolutely fucking STUPID. I mean… we are more than apt in fucking up everything that we’ve ever been given, but we have to have to turn on one another as well?.. We are SO human. And we don’t compromise on destruction. Why choose one aspect of this earth to screw over when you can screw them all! – The (NOT ‘our’) oceans, the forests, the soil, the food-chain, other animals and each other?
So maybe the loss of our species is not such a tragedy after all.. And in my opinion, it’s not. If mother earth rolled my arse off her face tomorrow I would understand. BUT, even though I hold this brutally honest perspective on the human race, I could NEVER use it as an excuse to do something as significant as dropping an ATMOIC weapon on a busy city.
So I come back to my original question: When we know the extent of the destructive power that we are capable of and none the less use it against the world – How can we possibly justify our existence?
How about some relevant facts..
The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was the first ever to be used intentionally to cause destruction against humanity.
This bomb was known as “Little Boy” (an irony I find disgusting).
The bomb was dropped on the 6th of August 1945 at 8.16AM.
70,000 – 80,000 people were killed instantly.
Between 90,000 and 166,000 people are believed to have died in the four month period following the bomb drop – from related wounds and radiation.
Up to 237,000 people died in the five year period following the bomb drop – from related wounds, radiation and cancer.
The city was almost completely levelled with 70,000 of some 76,000 buildings completely destroyed or severely damaged.
The bomb exploded approximately 2,000 feet/209 metres above the city of Hiroshima.
Everything (except a few reinforced obstructions) within a 1 mile/1.61 kilometre radius was obliterated.
The heat released by the explosion reached several million degrees Fahrenheit (also several million degrees Celsius) within one millionth of a second.
Within one second a fireball of 200-300 metres in diameter had emerged and engulfed everything in its path.
In the first few seconds following the initial blast, pressure of 4.5-6.7 tonnes per square metre moved at the speed of sound away from ground zero.
A white flash of energy let off by the bomb imprinted shadows into pavements and burnt all light materials, including flesh, in moments.
And after the heat and light and pressure of the initial blast.. Fires broke out and ravaged the remains of the city and it’s people for days.
And after the fires, radiation continued to destroy lives for years – picking people apart from the inside, deconstructing their DNA.
Just one more..
A commonly accepted image of the aftermath of the initial blast by survivors.. is that of people walking around, arms out in front of them, lost, disoriented and burnt.. with flesh hanging off of them in chunks and ribbons.
So.. sadness – thats the first emotion that struck me.
But the one that really took me over after a day walking around the A-Bomb Dome and it’s surrounding Peace Park and museum was different.. Because, although there is this deep, deep sadness. And although this sadness is the obvious emotion to feel towards such an event.. After seeing that shard of a building, after walking through the grounds of the Peace Park, after witnessing the horrors of the ‘Peace Memorial Museum’ (a title which says a lot about the Japanese people and how they now feel towards nuclear destruction) and after reading the biography of a survivor who was there, in front of us, at the A-Bomb Dome, trying to educate visitors about what had happened. What I felt, was not exactly sadness..
It was white-hot, blinding, rage. The kind of rage that literally blurs the sides of my vision. That I can feel as a numbness in my chest. It dizzies me. It deafens me. It makes my fingers tingle and my eyes burn. It makes me so hyper-aware of my heart gasping inside of me that it would be absolutely terrifying had I not experienced it before.. But of course I have. This is the rage, which left unchecked, turns my mind against my body, and becomes a full-fledged anxiety attack. It is the rage, which when suppressed altogether, becomes depression. Thus, it is a most delicate, most empowering kind of rage. A rage that must be expressed in balance. And so a write…
But why rage? Well! – When the deed was done. When the dust began to settle days later. As the dying suffered. As the living mourned. As the dead lay decomposing. America denied everything. The propaganda machines were booted and sent into a protective, cowardly frenzy. The people of Japan were given no compensation, no recognition. Not even an apology in the years following. Today the Peace Memorial Museum of Hiroshima stands as a proud monument seeking world peace and an end to nuclear weaponry. The people of Japan admit to starting a war and admit to the greed of their leaders at the time. They understand the conditions which lead to the development and dropping of the atomic bombs on their country and they are willing to take blame for refusing to surrender earlier. Japan has spent 71 years mourning. Now all it wants is peace.
I mean… What amazing people!
And yet. Research into atomic weaponry continues. Arms races have escalated beyond the wildest dreams of the 50’s. The world ticks along without having to think about it. America votes into power the most dangerous, self-righteous, politically uneducated, white-man they can find. And global tension builds again.. We learn nothing! We ignore anything that makes us feel or think deeply! We blunder through life carelessly and when something finally goes wrong, when our stupidity finally comes to stare us starkly in the face… We deny it all. We sweep it under a giant rug and shout louder at the media than those who hold the real facts. We listen to the wealthy, who buy false research, and let them sooth us into believing that nothing has to change. Our effort is not required. We can go back to our senseless shopping.. HOW DO WE JUSTIFY AN EXISTENCE AS MEANINGLESS AS THIS!
Even IF the mass loss of human life is not a tragedy. Even IF Japan is willing to take the blame for it’s own destruction. Even IF the war has come to an end. HOW do we live in a world which is not even mature enough to say the word “sorry” when it’s so long overdue? HOW do we live in a world so filled with denial and lies and greed?…
In 2016 for the first time in history, a sitting president of the United States of America made a visit to Hiroshima. His name was Obama. The people of Japan wept with gratitude. He, still, did not offer an apology.
So rage is the real emotion that I felt.
But I’ll let Japan have the final say because rage is not at all what they want.