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Ring bells for peace

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

A year and a half ago, I was able to travel to Hiroshima in Japan. Looking at the vast majority today you would find a modern Japanese city. It is clean, has good transit, and is quite modern. However as one gets closer to the site where the first A bomb was dropped, one comes across the ruins of the Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Promotion Hall. Everyone inside that hall died instantly on that fateful morning of August 6th, 1945. At a nearby museum videos play that tell the stories of survivors of the blast. In the films, survivors talk of horrific injuries they suffered, being witness to so many deaths, and their lives forever changed by that one bomb blast. When they woke up that morning, nothing could have prepared them for what would happen later on that day. It was merely another day of work, or of school. Nobody would believe how hundreds of thousands of lives could be changed so quickly.

The city and the country could have sought out revenge for that bombing and the bombing at Nagasaki. They could have easily decided to yell an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth and sought to attack and kill Americans. But they didn't. The country declared that they would fight in no further battles. The area around ground zero was made into a peace park. A gong and an eternal fire were placed in the park, all dedicated to world peace. The city was able to move forward by forgetting about revenge and working for peace.

We seem to have learned very little about how we deal with our enemies since Hiroshima. It is still too easy to seek revenge rather than work for peace. Hostilities have been very high between the west and Iran since the late 1970's. Since that time, there have been embargoes, sanctions, sieges at embassies, terrorist bombings, bombings by western military forces in Baghdad and throughout Iran. Thousands upon thousands of people have died. Both the west and Iran have referred to the other side as the great Satan or evil empire. Each threat, economic sanction, or show of violence by one side has been met by a greater show of force by the other. Each passing year sees the promise of peace moving further and further away. The victims of Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 are just part of a long string of atrocities committed by one side or another.

The gong of that peace bell in the Hiroshima park still rings in my ear. Maybe it is something that we need to hear right now. There are those clamouring for war in the midst of last week's tragedy. But as the rabbi says in "Fiddler on the Roof" if we live according to the maxim of "an eye for an eye is all well and good but it might leave us both blind." It is time to stop the revenge. It is time to ring a bell for peace. Blessings.

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