The word “Hiroshima” has become synonymous with the horrors of nuclear war. Unfortunately, we need to be horrified now and then. We need to see and feel just how terrible war is and how particularly horrifying nuclear war would be.
A visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Park and the Memorial Museum both succeed and fail in horrifying us. The sickening images of Hiroshima immediately after the blast, the stories of the survivors, the artifacts like shards of clothing and a watch stopped at 8:15 when the bomb went off are powerful. Part of the reason the park and museum fail is not their fault. The truth is that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima has but a small fraction of the destructive power of a “modern” thermonuclear weapon. A hydrogen bomb of about the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima has about 60 times the force. We cannot imagine 60 simultaneous Hiroshima blasts.
In Hiroshima I laid a wreath at the memorial and spoke to several hundred people at the local Rissho Kosei-kai (RKK) Dharma Center. In my remarks I said that if peace is to be more than a dream, then we must wage peace with the determination, courage and cunning we summon to wage war.
Peace which is durable comes into being when people know one another, respect one another and have compassion for one another. Peace also requires a foundation of human rights. We cannot have a lasting peace when there is exploitation and injustice.
I also said that religious bodies have a special responsibility, for religion has too often been used to motivate people to fight and to justify violence. If we are to have peace, the world’s religions and religious leaders must embrace mutual respect and appreciation.
I was overwhelmed by the response of the Japanese RKK congregation in Hiroshima. They are clearly hungry for interfaith cooperation. The task of leaders like myself is to seek ways to expand and deepen our interfaith connections. We need lots and lots of allies in order to wage peace.