A Proposition from Hiroshima
The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 destroyed my right eye but opened my life. To save my ailing left eye, I retired to my native town and spent six months there hospitalized at an eye doctor’s clinic. It was in that half year that I gave myself to the most intense thinking in my life.
With the horrible scenes of the atomic disaster fresh in my mind, I started to wonder if modern civilization, having created such a horrendous weapon, should be allowed to progress in the same direction as before. Unless the course of civilization was drastically changed, mankind would have no choice but self-annihilation, I thought. Couldn’t there be another course of development for civilization? My query was naïve but sincere, and I came out with a fundamental criticism of civilization today. I criticized it as a civilization dedicated to the pursuit of power, or a civilization of power.
What then could replace such a civilization? I identified its alternative as a civilization of love. For in the post-bombing miseries, I had to return to the teachings of the three eternal teachers of mankind – Confucius, Buddha and Jesus Christ. None of them accepted the principle of power. All negated it and emphasized the principle of love. These three great teachers tried to show mankind how it could live on harmoniously, and thus concurred on the importance of love. If a civilization based on love as taught by them is termed a civilization of love, isn’t it necessary for us to get rid of the civilization of power in order to build it? My post-bombing contemplation led me to the conclusion that a civilization of love should replace the civilization of power.
But what I have been criticizing as the civilization of power throughout the 42 post-Hiroshima years has never given in. Nuclear weapons, which were the ultimate achievement of the civilization of power, have evolved – from the atom bomb to the hydrogen bomb and from mere bombs to a nuclear missile delivery system. Now, the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union has come to involve outer space.
Nuclear power has gone beyond military use and penetrated business areas, too, and nuclear power plants have been built all over the globe. They are soon to supply half the energy needed in the world. With the simultaneous development of military and commercial utilization of nuclear energy, we now find ourselves in the midst of a nuclear civilization. What I called the civilization of power in my hospital days has now shown its full figure as a nuclear civilization.
Our anti-nuclear peace movement categorically rejects not only military but also commercial utilization of nuclear energy. We are absolutely anti-nuclear. We are against the nuclear civilization. We are determined to end the era of the nuclear civilization and usher in a nuclear-free future – an era of a nuclear-free civilization. Our call for transition from the civilization of power to the civilization of love therefore has taken on a new, contemporary expression – transition from a nuclear civilization to a nuclear-free civilization.
Development and utilization of nuclear energy, either in the military or commercial area, involve radiation hazards. Human beings suffer from radiation damage at all stages of the so-called nuclear cycle – from uranium extraction down to the disposal of nuclear wastes. In most cases, the victims are the weak and powerless, those who are socially discriminated against and oppressed. The development and utilization of nuclear energy thus presuppose, and structurally rest upon, the system of discrimination and oppression. Most seriously victimized by nuclear programs are indigenous Americans and Australian aborigines on the spots of uranium mining, subcontract workers doing the most dangerous work in nuclear power plants, and people on Pacific islands directly exposed to the deadly effects of nuclear weapons tests. The state and business are on the strong side, and the people who are used by them are on the weaker side. Nuclear development is being carried out by the sacrifice of the weak people who are oppressed and discriminated against, and whose human rights are ruthlessly trampled upon by the strong. Underlying the structure of the civilization of power is a relationship that divides humanity into those who dominate and oppress, on the one hand, and the people who are dominated, ignored, and discriminated against by power exercised by the strong, on the other. This is why the anti-nuclear movement on the Pacific islands aims to achieve a nuclear-free and oppression-free future.
We, nuclear victims gathered here from many places of the world, are all products of this relationship. We are here to terminate the era of the nuclear civilization and begin a nuclear-free future establishing a nuclear-free civilization.
What is our vision of a future nuclear-free civilization, or civilization of love, which we are eager to establish?
The nuclear civilization is the apex of industrialization, guided by developments in science and technology. The industrial society rests upon huge production and huge consumption, which devour a colossal amount of energy. Indulged in unlimited production and consumption, we are now dissipating what ought to be left to our future generations. Our resources are limited. Unless we use them modestly and set them aside for the future, we will be harming our posterity. We first should stop coveting big things, and find beauty in small things. As Dr. E. F. Schumacher once said, “Big is evil, and small is beautiful.” The first step away from the civilization of power and toward the civilization of love is this change of values.
Our nuclear-free future is a future where we don’t depend upon large-scale nuclear energy. A civilization should develop that can live on alternative energies, such as solar, wind, hydro, wave and geothermal. We want to live modestly within the natural circulation of energy and materials.
The civilization of power is based on the notion of the conquest of nature, a concept that has served as the driving force of the modern materialistic society. But doesn’t the word “conquest” sound harsh? Life and civilization worth humanity do not follow it. We can live as profoundly human only when we live according to nature. The civilization of love will be based on attitudes encapsulated in such ideas as “land as mother” and “co-living with nature,” which were developed, for instance, by indigenous Americans.
At the base of the civilization of power lies antagonism – between conquest, domination and oppression on the one hand, and submission, victimization, discrimination, and loss of rights on the other. In contrast, the civilization of love is founded on the equality and co-existence of all people on earth. It is a civilization where people, instead of killing each other, share with each other. It is a civilization of universal sisterhood and brotherhood. It is a civilization achieved in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, who taught and practiced non-violence and renounced violence.
The developmental enthusiasm of the civilization of power is expansion-oriented. It has gone so far as to target outer space as its object of development. By contrast, the civilization of love promotes internal development, endeavoring to create an infinitely rich world within ourselves. In this direction, we should be able to create a new spiritual civilization whose self-enrichment knows no limit.
Thank you very much.