On August 9, I played for a service in memory of the bombing of Nagasaki 70 years ago. While it was a somber service, there was also a sense of hope…hope that we can–and will–create a better world for our children and grandchildren.
Richard Rhodes was the keynote speaker. He has spent 30 years studying the bombing and other aspects of the nuclear age. One of the things that he said really struck me. Despite the awfulness of the situation we have lived under since the bombing, he is hopeful that at least by our grandchildren’s time, we will have created a world without nuclear weapons.
His comment was this…that one way or another we will have a world without weapons. We will either have banned / outlawed them (even though we cannot put the knowledge of how to create them back in the genie’s bottle)…or we will have used them and destroyed ourselves and the world.
When you put it that starkly, there is only one option.
But I still found myself struggling…and my struggle has to do with how much I am willing to live out what I believe.
Listening to Richard Rhodes reminded me that MAD (mutually assured destruction) is an impossible way to live and bring true peace. There are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over. Why?
War does not bring peace. Haven’t we discovered that by now?
I’m reminded of a quote by Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
So if I believe that, why am I so afraid to live it?
I do not want to continue to live in a world that is standing on the abyss of self-destruction. I do not believe that is why we were created.
But I’m scared to take that first step…and scared not to. But I don’t want to live in fear any longer.
A venerable old sage once asked his disciples, “How can we know when the darkness is leaving and the dawn is coming?”
“When we can see a tree in the distance and know that it is an elm and not a juniper,” ventured one student.
“When we can see an animal and know that it is a fox and not a wolf,” chimed in another.
“No,” said the old man, “those things will not help us.”
Puzzled, the students demanded, “How then can we know?”
The master teacher drew himself up to his full stature and replied quietly, “We know the darkness is leaving and the dawn is coming when we can see another person and know that this is our brother or our sister; otherwise, no matter what time it is, it is still dark.”