Monday, April 26, 2010

Live and Learn

I would imagine that if you had a child, your very first child whether the first of many or the sole mini-you, you would do anything to protect him or her. The reason there are over a thousand parenting guides and Baby Einstein videos is because deep down, no parent wants to screw up their own flesh and blood, right? The first years of that innocent life must be pins and needles for the parent as they learn the basic do's and don'ts of parenthood. But of course, there must be one moment when they drop the ball, figuratively speaking... hopefully, and Baby gets hurt. I would assume that hearing the screams of pain coming from your own child would threaten to cinch the strings of a mother's heart making his or her's pain their own. Lesson learned. It's not ok for Baby to eat peanutbutter when he is allergic to peanuts, and it's not advisable for her to go outside without shoes because somebody was careless and dropped a glass and the remaining shards of glass will rip her feet to shreds. You live, you learn, and you make sure that you don't do it again.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Musuem. It was last on my stops through Japan, and by far my favorite part of the journey. The simple reasons of this museum, and the surrounding park, are to not only remember, but to live, and to learn from the past. August 6, 1945 was the day that put Hiroshima on the map, and sadly erased thousands from it at the same time. At 8:15 am the first atomic bomb was dropped, and the entire world changed. I knew little of the atomic bomb prior to coming to the museum. I knew that Americans dropped it, and it put an end to the years of bloodshed and killing that had amassed into World War II, but I didn't know of the personal devestation it brought to the individuals; the ones who lost their lives immediately due to the heatrays, those who managed to navigate their ways home while their melted skin hung off their arms, legs, and backs until there was nothing to do but slip off into surely what would be a better place, or the lucky ones who survived unharmed, until years down the road when they exhibited the signs of radiation poisoning.

The museum did what I thought was a thorough job of not only telling, but also showing things you probably learned in history class as well as opening the door to the lives of those actually touched by that day. They had copies of Einstein's letter to Roosevelt telling that the knowledge was there to create such a weapon and it could end up in the "wrong hands." You could look at detailed models of the pre and post-bomb city of Hiroshima. They had what appeared to be chunks of glass that were really the result of sand being exposed to intense heatrays in the desert during bomb tests. And they had an exhibit that introduced the needlessly short biographies of kids who had been put to work by the Japanese government to clear lots throughout the city that would give them firelanes incase of an air raid attack but actually became their final resting places.

It was during this last exhibit where the full impact of destruction hit me. I just kept thinking, is this the result of the formula falling into the "right hands?" But how different would my life be if instead of visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum I was visiting the Oviedo Peace Memorial Museum, or more appropriately timed, the Shelbyville Peace Memorial Museum. Shelbyville was the town where my dad, whose own parents were learning the do's and don'ts of complicated parenthood, was on August 6, 1945.

After visiting the museum I got curious. How close was this major event in history to wiping off my parent who was alive at that time. The answer, 1 degree, in a way of thinking. Apparently Hiroshima is roughly at the latitude line of 34 degrees. Little ol' Shelbyville, Tennessee? 35 degrees. Yeah, I know, nowhere near each other, yet, almost just like a hop, skip, and a jump. All that type of thinking just leads me to wonder, who isn't writing a blog at this very moment because that complex mathematical problem was solved by "the wrong hands."

As you can see, the Peace Museum made my brain work. I appreciated how one of the major ideas expressed was, this tragic event happened, over a hundred thousand people were killed because of it, and what about now? Each time a nuclear bomb test is done in the world, the mayor of Hiroshima telegraphs a request of ceasing. The citizens of Hiroshima have learned their lesson, but have the rest of us?

I guess if I ever have a child I'll make a lot of parenting mistakes, but I will live, learn, and change.

1 comment:

Jasmine said...

An incredible, important entry. Thank you, Connie.