On August 6th we remember the horrific events following the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima 72 years ago, which killed over 140,000 people. Three days later after the fact, on August 9th, president Harry Truman ordered a second atomic bomb to be dropped, this time on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing 74,000 people.
Yesterday, people around the world commemorated these sad events with peace processions. I participated in one in Syracuse, New York.
The front of our peace procession featured people wearing solemn,ghostly masks, along with a doomsday puppet carried by others. The procession moved to the double beat of the drum, representing the two bombs dropped. We were asked to remain silent and to meditate during the procession. Toward the back of the group, we carried hopeful doves and peace signs representing a better future possible that is free of the threat of nuclear war.
As the procession moved through the streets of the downtown, a few members of the group handed out fliers to people on the sidewalks. The bystanders were almost all interested in engaging with the material, and I heard the women carrying banners in front of me saying this was the most bystander interaction they had gotten in the past 40 years of participating in this procession. They said it had to do with recent happenings.
The night prior to the peace procession, the current leader of the US threatened that if North Korea made any more threats to the US, they would be met with with “fire and fury,” in what most took to signal the threat of nuclear bombs.
In response to this, North Korea pushed back as General Kim Rak Gyom, the head of the country’s strategic forces, declared that “Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him”. He went on to detail a plan to bomb the sea around the American territory of Guam.
In a refueling stop in Guam yesterday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that “Americans should sleep well tonight” and stressed that nothing had“dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.”
A lot has taken place in the past forty eight hours. And while it might seem like our world is getting more chaotic and violent, maybe that’s because we’re watching too much American media.
In hopeful world news, for the first time since nuclear weapons were created, 2/3 of the UN member countries participated in negotiations to create a treaty that, if successful, would prohibit use of nuclear weapons in the world. On September 20th the treaty will be opened to sign, and will be entered into international law 90 days after 50 countries ratify it.
The US has stated it will never sign it. But, I think a lot of people are starting to realize, the US might be on the wrong side of history.
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