On the morning of August 6, 1945, the airplane Enola Gay (named after the pilot's mother) was flying over Japan. At 8:15am the crew let drop a bomb they had dubbed "Little Boy" over the city of Hiroshima.
Their plane was well out of the way when the explosion occurred. With the force of 20,000 tons of TNT it obliterated most of the city of Hiroshima. Seventy thousand men, women and children were killed immediately. Thousands more continued living and suffering. Thousands threw themselves into the Ota River.
Three days later 40,000 more humans were incinerated in Nagasaki.
These were clearly among the great atrocities of World War II, much as some of us would like to deny it.
The primary argument was that this act saved the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers who might have had to fight a ground war in Japan. Dissenters have argued that Japan was already exploring with the Russians, who had not yet entered the Pacific war action, the possibilities of a peace agreement.
Unfortunately, the Japanese were motivated to intensify their resistance when the policy of "unconditional surrender" was announced by President Truman.
The fact remains that a weapon that had been tested, and whose destructive power could be foretold, was first used against a civilian population.
One of the A-bomb's originators, J. Robert Oppenheimer, said, "Today...pride must be tempered with a profound concern. If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of...[the] world...then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima.
"The peoples of the world must unite, or they will perish. This war that has ravaged so much of the earth, has written these words. The atomic bomb has spelled them out for all men to understand." (my emphasis)
After the bomb's destructive power was first demonstrated, Albert Einstein, the world's most famous scientist, and one of the bomb's originators, declared, "Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe...a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels."
Alas, the old types of thinking still hold sway in the world's great sovereign nations. New nations have been added to the nuclear club, including some who have shown no reluctance in attacking their neighbors-China, India, Pakistan, Russia, and (thought not new) the United States of America.
Estimates of the number of nuclear weapons in the world's arsenals (some many more times more powerful than the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) range from 30,000 to 35,000. The U.S. has 20,000. Imagine the destruction to life on our planet if even one-tenth of these were ever exploded!
Today we are mired in the same mode of thinking that produced the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our dominant beliefs include these:
The nation is more sacred than human life.
We must always be prepared to wreak massive killing and destruction a) for self-defense, and b) for deterrence.
Our institutions designed for this destruction (our militaries) deserve our highest honor and admiration.
The people who make up these militaries are especially to be praised.
Highest honors-medals, ranks, etc.-go to those who have participated in the process of killing and destruction.
Albert Einstein's concept of a new way of thinking called for the disarmament of nations under the security umbrella of a world government. He declared, "...with all my heart I believe that the world's present system of sovereign nations can lead only to barbarism, war, and inhumanity, and only through world law can we assure progress toward civilization."
And, "A world government with powers adequate to guarantee security is not a remote ideal for the distant future. It is an immediate necessity if our civilization is to continue. It is the condition of survival of ourselves and of all we value."
How like Oppenheimer's words, "The peoples of the world must unit, or they will perish!"
In the years that have passed since these concerns were expressed, what progress has been made in this respect?
1. The old modes of thinking still adhere.
2. Our life-sustaining environment is in rapid decline.
3. Destructive weaponry (and the vast profits it produces for money- and power-hungry men) has proliferated in every continent.
4. The United Nations Organization, based on the maintenance of sovereign nations, loosely united by treaties, but without credible, effective world law, has proven incapable of preventing dozens of bloody wars, the spread of nuclear weaponry, and the on-going destruction of our life-sustaining environment.
At the same time
5. Our world has shrunk to the size of a city, in terms of travel and communication.
6. One language-English-is widely spoken in every major city in the world.
7. One common technology and major culture in terms of dress, travel, education, research, consumerism.
8. Worldwide communities of caring people organized to protect the environment and diversity of wildlife, feed the hungry, heal the sick, house the homeless, and protest against weaponry and violence.
Looking forward, Einstein was wise enough to not put his faith in governments and politicians to lead to a new way of thinking. He said, "The establishment of such an organization [world government] must not depend upon the initiative of the various governments. Only the unbending will of the peoples of the world is capable of setting in motion the forces required to make such a radical break with old and obsolete political traditions."
Today the world seems to be moving closer to a kind of political unity. Unfortunately, the kind of unity advanced by the "various governments" is promoted for the interests of corporations-concentrated economic power. These have shown little concern for de-militarizing the world, for protecting the environment from plundering and pollution, for filling the basic needs of the billions of money-lacking men, women and children of our planet.
Obviously, the antidote to this corporate tyranny is not a return to the present system of sovereign states, which is even more easily controlled by financial interests, and whose alleged "national defense" is the excuse for profitable, but dangerous arms build-ups.
We should not permit the word "globalism" to be co-opted by supra-national corporations. It is a good contrast to "nationalism," which is the world's present social disease. It should refer to an attitude of caring for life on this globe, which must be the basis for a world community.
Understandably, many people are turned off by the term "world government."
Government means "tyranny" in some nations, and is very distasteful to advocates of unrestricted selfish pursuit of wealth, privilege, and power.
A world government created by a world electorate, dominated by an attitude of caring for human and environmental well-being, would have incorporated into its constitution departments, or agencies with the following responsibilities:
1. Confiscation of all weapons of killing and destruction.
2. Protection of the health of earth's air, water, soil, and conservation of wildlife.
3. Guardianship of worldwide freedom of expression and travel.
4. Production and distribution of essentials for healthy living for all humans.
5. Promotion of desire and means for reducing the human rate of birth.
6. A criminal justice system devoted to rehabilitation and healing, instead of revenge and intent to inflict suffering.
9. Any other activities deemed essential for human and environmental well-being.
At the present time there is hardly any subject so totally ignored by political leaders and electorates, including most non-government organizations concerned for disarmament, the environment, filling human needs, healing, and education, as the creation of a structured world community. In one sense, humanity, with the exception of a few, has learned nothing from Hiroshima.
If you happen to agree with these quoted beliefs of Einstein, your letters to newspapers (the Coastal Post is most generous in printing letters from its readers), your voices in appropriate meetings, and in private conversations, may become sparks to ignite public controversy and serious thought.
In July, 1998, the present Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, wrote, "There are no limits to what the campaigns of tomorrow can achieve-campaigns not yet born, for causes not yet articulated, championed by hearts and minds still unformed. And it is often those single-minded enough to believe their missions to be most important, who are also likely to make them the most successful."