The importance of Obama’s visit to Hiroshima

28.05.2016 - Dario Ergas

This post is also available in: Spanish, Italian

The importance of Obama’s visit to Hiroshima

The President of the United States Barack Obama, was today, May 27, 2016, the protagonist of one of those special moments in history. It is very difficult to appreciate its magnitude and significance. He went to the scene, where one of the greatest crimes against humanity was committed, which inaugurated the use of the nuclear bomb against civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I was always struck by the insistent justification and often the arrogance with which rulers and historians of that country recounted that event. When we do something horrible, more often than not we try to find reason to justify ourselves for the monstrosities carried out. We manipulate the facts in order to exaggerate our reasons and minimise our mistakes. When this behaviour is not individual, but social, as the barbaric act is supported by a civil society that looks the other way and allows the crimes committed, to then enjoy the benefits of such a crime, it is much worse. A distortion of our historical memory takes place trying to erase all traces of what happened. This is what usually happens, and commissions of “Truth and Justice” of the countries wounded by dictatorships and civil wars have an arduous task to recover the true memory of nations.

This gesture of Obama cannot be diminished by accusing him of hypocrisy, being the president of the country with the largest nuclear power in the world. Nor can it be ruled out because he did not use the word “forgiveness” or dramatised a false repentance.

Obama, the president of the most powerful country in the world, came to the place that symbolises the greatest devastation carried out by humankind, by his own country, to make contact with the suffering of women and men killed by a power that humanity had just discovered. He arrived and listened to the terrified cries of thousands of Japanese children who died or were killed or were condemned to a life of disability. Obama stirred a cry of pain and reproduced it to be heard by all American generations and by every corner of the planet.

He did not apologise, that is true, but he looked around the monstrosity of what happened and acknowledged the horrors committed. Here there is no forgetting. It is a first step towards reconciliation. A first step to be followed by ups and downs, but the human being stood up again.

Looking at everything that happened, not only what justifies my action, but looking also into the eyes of my enemy, those who died and suffered; the innocent, and accepting responsibility for having reached the point of inhumanity communicates and humanises us. Awareness is the way to make a profound change possible and for these events never to happen again.

Reconciliation will not be accomplished until steps are taken with resolution to dismantle the nuclear danger; actions that begin to curb the arms race and give the first example for nuclear disarmament. A concrete action as example by this country will be the beginning of the road. This is the time to unite among peoples and ask for the welfare of all humankind.

When I look at these gestures of Obama, first in Cuba, also in Argentina, then in Hiroshima, I seem to be witnessing the end of a stage only to jump into a new one of confrontation between large regional blocs. I cannot help noticing that the house is being ordered for the concentration of a new kind of global power; more technological, more aseptic, but perhaps more dehumanising. And in this new scenario the humanists of the world will be part of the struggle; will try to unite, they will try to achieve a new awareness of self and the human being; They will make an attempt to change the direction of this new imperial power and outline a universal human nation.

But today, beyond any justification, beyond any judgement, this visit invites to illuminate the darkest moment of human life: when we learned that we can commit suicide en masse.

I raise this hymn to the look that looks at itself, raising Obama’s words to be studied and meditated in schools and homes of all cultures. In the silence produced by reflecting about Hiroshima, a murmur will grow and then a clamour for total world nuclear disarmament.

 

Translation by Silvia Swinden
Categories: Asia, Humanism and Spirituality, Opinions
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