The anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are quickly approaching and, as happens every year, I am sad and disgusted. I don’t remember which documentary it was that I watched a few years ago, but in it Harry Truman gave a speech concerning the bombings. He told the American people that god was not only on their side, but he (obviously) was encouraging them to drop an atomic bomb on a city full of people. Two bombs were dropped on two separate cities on two separate days, killing hundreds of thousands of people and deforming countless more. Naturally Japan surrendered, the war ended mere days after the second bomb was dropped, and most USers viewed the genocide as well worth it. Almost sixty years later, I was alive and of a thinking age as we began the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. I saw the way people reacted and it made me honestly believe that if we dropped A-bombs on either of these countries, the outcry within our borders would have been minimal. I say this because, according to this article, the majority of USers still believe that dropping a unimaginably destructive nuclear weapon on cities full of innocent people justified the ends.
What makes human beings – hundreds of millions of human beings – able to turn off their emotions when it comes to something as powerful as the undiscriminating killing of hundreds of thousands of people? How can people pick up newspapers, turn on their televisions, or simply overhear of the deaths of dozens of people every single day for the past nine years, and not react?
My place of business is located next to a Wendy’s, and we get dozens of people every day trying to cut through our parking lot and then screeching angrily away when they realize there is a dead end; most of these cars have kids in them. Why are parents knowingly feeding their children poison? How can people sit back and do nothing as our representatives allow for corporations to blow the tops of off hundreds of mountains? Are we, as a species, that dumb? Have we been trained not to feel for others? Based on the conversations that I have with people, it seems that we are indeed being formed to be these selfish, fuck-the-rest, type of people. I talk to people who are completely apolitical and they see it- they know they are being lied to, they know that innocent people are being killed with weapons bought using their tax dollars, they know that the police are here to protect the rich, and they’re mad about it. They are able to push it away though, because they have a decent job or really like the car they’re driving, or just don’t want the so-called negative attention that comes with going against the grain. They have just enough (and are constantly working harder just to keep) material items to make it not quite worth it to fight back.
I’m all for marches, I support people who smash windows of corporations, and writing letters to newspapers and representatives is a great start, but how can we really make people rise up? Do we have to wait until the economy (or the entire empire) crashes before people start making these changes? I think, as corny and slow as it seems, that change will come through conversations. That’s why – even though I’m not the greatest writer and not many people read this – I continue to post blogs. That’s why even when I can see the boredom in people eye’s, I keep talking; if one out of every hundred people who hears my words begin to think differently, I’m a happy man. Sure, at that rate I won’t see huge change within my lifetime, but I think I’m ok with that. Maybe next time there is a lead up to war, the opposition will be that much greater. Maybe, when a breaking story reveals the use of poisonous gasses on non-soldiers there will be a few more people in the streets and a few fires. Maybe not. Either way, all each of us can do is what we can do and we must remember that. We can’t do anymore and we certainly must stop ourselves from doing any less.