Hiroshima and the Kingdom of God

Published Circleville Herald 5 August 2010


At 0815 on Monday August 6, 1945 “Little Boy”, containing 130 pounds of Uranium 235, killed outright 70,000 Japanese civilians. The shadows of many of them, eerily burned into the concrete as their bodies were instantaneously vaporized can be seen today at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The 13 kiloton weapon, only  .00065 as powerful as today’s  20 megaton nightmares, killed 90% of all the physicians, 93% of all the nurses. No help would be forthcoming for the 90,000 dying of the vomiting, the wasting away of the then unknown radiation sickness. Much of the U.S. public in 1945, thought of Japanese as “monkeys”, a “mass of vermin”, 13% thought all Japanese should be ‘exterminated”. ( Martel, WWII Reader)

Sonic booms often shook my home in the late 1950s. We learned in school to crawl under our desks, to shield our eyes from the flash that would blind us forever.  They showed us Civil Defense films of ”The Bomb” and it’s power, like Hell on earth. I knew that desk wasn’t  going to protect nada.  How stupid  and undeserving of trust were these adults teaching me that it would? The Cleveland TV news showed the range of those Cuban missiles, drawn with circumferential arcs north of Lake Erie whilst speaking of the steel, auto, tank building targets. I lived inside of those arcs October of 1962.  President John Kennedy restrained his military men, men who could only speak of first strike, invasion, and “acceptable casualties”. What if the swaggering , “Bring it on!”( GWB June 2003) flight suit wearing, tragic schoolyard bully that was George W. Bush had his chance to outshine his father then?

The recent Wikileak tapes and documents of U.S. troops killing civilians by the hundreds only confirms what war has always been. What is wrong with Obama? Is it so important to him to be a centrist, to try and listen to his Republican opposition that he fails to do the right thing, the humane thing and end these occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan? I called his office, shortly after his inauguration, told his staff that like another Democratic President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who saw his dreams of the a just  American “Great Society” destroyed by Vietnam, so would Afghanistan drain the lives, finances and dreams of Obama’s administration. I had canvassed door to door for Obama, I urged his staff tell Obama to do what he knew was right and end these inherited  military misadventures.

The U.S. spends more on the military than all the rest of the world combined. Well over 50% of our discretionary spending goes to bombs, missiles and bullets. Our health care system is ranked far below that of many other nations, nations where no one dies because they can’t see a doctor. 45,000 die yearly in the U.S. for lack of health insurance. In many nations students are a national treasure, treated like a valuable resource to be developed.  They attend college free, medical students graduate without debt. Freed of debt, such medical graduates become needed primary care Docs. U.S. Docs , incurring  crushing debt , become overpriced specialists. The total costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, by the time the vets are cared for, and our debt paid to China, with interest- will be over  $6-8 trillion dollars.  My grandchildren attend an elementary school over a hundred years old. Are we insane?

This August 6th, the 65th anniversary of Hiroshima, the Circleville Quakers and Veterans for Peace will continue our first Friday of every month “Honk for Peace and Justice” event, 4:30 p.m. at the Pickaway County Courthouse, South Court Street. Prophet Micah knew  that the way to peace is through justice, it is only when everyone is secure , when “ each man will sit under his vine and fig tree, with no one to trouble him” will they “ hammer their swords into ploughshares.” ( excerpts of Micah 4:3-4 New Jerusalem translation). Having a vine and fig tree means no man dies from lack of health care in the richest nation in the world, that every parent knows his child will be educated, knows that unregulated Wall Street financiers will not gamble away the economy.  It means no mother’s child will die or kill another’s child in Iraq or Afghanistan because he was poor with so few opportunities that joining the military or selling crack seemed like the only option. All persons, all faiths, even the so-called “pariahs” among us will have an honored seat at the banquet. This is the Kingdom of God Jesus asked us to work for.

Working for Peace is joyous! Join us at the Pickaway County Courthouse on the first Friday of every month - 4 p.m.  1960’s and Motown tunes by boombox free to all participants!


Brad Cotton

 - member, Veterans for Peace