August 6th, 2020 was the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. In light of this moment, I believe we owe it to the victims of this atrocity to take the time to reflect on this event and what lessons we should take away from it.
When I was growing up in the US, I heard the argument in my history classes that the bomb was a “necessary evil” to end the war faster. At the time, I didn’t really question that view. Also, I don’t recall my teachers challenging that idea, or commenting on the morality of it. I just accepted it as a tragedy of war that had to happen.
My viewpoint changed significantly a few years ago when I visited the Peace Museum in Hiroshima. Watching videos of the survivors telling their stories, seeing pictures of people affected by the radiation, and seeing a beautiful, bustling city turned to rubble was undeniably one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen in my life. I then realized that absolutely nothing could justify what happened to the people of Hiroshima. It was pure evil. Doing that to innocent people including children, even in the context of war, is unforgivable.
Considering how dramatically my perspective changed after visiting the museum, it’s clear to me that American education is failing its youth in teaching about the atomic bomb. In a survey conducted by NHK, 70% of Americans answered that there is no need for nuclear weapons. I find it concerning, however, that 30% of respondents stated that there is a need or are undecided. Moreover, it was shown that more than 80% of Americans say they want to learn more about the atomic bomb, and that only 35% of them have heard the stories of the survivors. These figures indicate a clear lack of information, especially from the perspective of the victims of this tragedy. With better education, I bet that more people would reach the conclusion that the atomic bomb should never have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The message of the Peace Museum in Hiroshima is clear: We must get rid of all nuclear weapons. The survivors, known as “hibakusha”, say that the only apology they can truly accept is full abolition of all nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, we are still living in a world where major powers claim that having nukes is “necessary” to maintain world order, and many people uncritically accept that as true. I now believe that having nuclear weapons whose sole purpose is to cause death and destruction on a massive scale can never be “necessary”. It’s just evil, and something like that shouldn’t even exist in our world.
I wish and pray for a world without any nuclear weapons. If I could fold a thousand cranes to make my wish come true, I would do it in a heartbeat.