Saturday, August 06, 2005

Who would Jesus bomb?

The Guardian today is observing 60th anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima with some very powerful articles. I've already shared one with you. Another one I want to call to you attention is by Paul Oestreicher and is entitled, "The message of Hiroshima". Here are some excerpts:

The complicity of religion with acts of violence is something that Islam does not face alone." Giles Fraser wrote that in this column two weeks ago, focused on death in London. The truth of his words was demonstrated by more than 100,000 civilian deaths 60 years ago today.
There are only two legitimate Christian approaches to war. The Christian pacifist, accepting the injunction of Jesus to love friends and enemies alike, says no to all war. A majority, since the Emperor Constantine became a Christian, accept war as permitted in a just cause and when fought by just means. Every version of that doctrine rules out the deliberate killing of non-combatants.
There is no ethical justification for weapons of mass destruction, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or humanist - no more than for the suicide bomber, whose only weapon is his body. Robert Oppenheimer rued the day when he helped create the atom bomb. He turned vehemently against nuclear weapons, while most religious leaders of the nuclear powers remained silently complicit.

A generation ago, American and British church leaders at least debated the issue. Like the Pope, they agreed that under cold-war conditions nuclear weapons might have a temporary function in maintaining a precarious peace, but that they would, as soon as possible, have to be negotiated away.
The real enemy always was war itself. I was 13, in New Zealand, the day after Hiroshima. I cannot forget the words of our physics teacher as he tried to explain what had happened: "Boys, either we now learn to end war, or war will end us."

Many year ago, when I was teaching fourth grade, my students were genuinely horrified to learn that America had actually used nuclear weapons. It was so obvious to those nine year olds that using "the bomb" was wrong and, since they thought of America as "good", they were truly shocked and disbelieving. I've never forgotten observing that reaction of children who were young enough to be still naïve about the world but old enough to have a sophisticated comprehension of the fact that we are capable of destroying ourselves as a species.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:49 PM

    Ellie, I had the same experience in a third grade reading class. The school was involved with a multicultural study of Japan. We were reading a story about a girl who had been bombed and hoped that if she could fold one thousand paper cranes, that she would live.
    While most of these children were of a very different background than yours, they had the same reaction. Sometimes children have a much greater awareness than adults.

    Today is Allyson's 21st birthday. She knows that she will never celebrate a birthday without Hiroshima being part of the day.


New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.