Tomorrow we commemorate 75 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here Donald Reece reflects on his thoughts ahead of this anniversary;
RAF Group Captain Leonard Cheshire was an observer at 39,000 feet over Nagasaki when the atomic bomb blasted into a fireball of intense heat and destruction.
In that split second of nuclear fission, Cheshire, the man of war, became Cheshire the crusader for peace.
‘When Nagasaki blew up we felt nothing but an overwhelming sense of awe, not because an unusual number of Japanese had been killed, but because something had happened which altered our fundamental concepts of life.’ *
He later voiced his new found conviction that the world must, to survive, turn to a Christian way of life. The development of the Cheshire Foundation Homes is well documented. I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife Sue Ryder while volunteering at a work camp for displaced people in Germany.
For their part, the people of Japan had a change of heart. Under UN supervision, they adopted Constitution included Article 9:
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognised.
European nations after WW1 did produce THE HAGUE RULES OF AIR WARFARE in 1922. Article XXII (1) stated:
Aerial bombardment for the purpose of terrorising civilian population, destroying private property not of a military character, or of injuring non-combatants is prohibited.
But these rules were never adopted.
In recent years we must thank those nations who worked together for the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, acknowledged by the Nobel Peace prize
Leonard Cheshire accentuates the need for repentance and a change of heart. The present day use of drones, and frequent news of bombings in the Middle East demands an ever newer spirit.
In trying to empathise with the victims of aerial warfare, I remember when I was a very small boy in the 1940s sheltering under the stairs with my mother. We heard a whining noise. I did not know why my mother was frightened.
We later saw the bombed out house in our village suburb. How much worse it must be for those who live in fear of aerial attack day by day. Our Lord Jesus Christ knows the number of hairs on our heads, and through his earthly suffering knows the pain of victims of war. His challenge to bombers is like that to Saul on the Damascus road: Why do you persecute me?
Merciful Father, by your Holy Spirit put a new heart
into the minds of all people everywhere
so that all of us may see the world as Christ sees,
love the world as he loves,
and live in the world as he has lived
for the coming of your Kingdom.
*LEONARD CHESHIRE VC, Russell Braddon, Corgi Books 1957.pp 143; 151
Join us for an online event to Commemorate 75 Years Since Hiroshima & Nagasaki
The hour long event will include reflections, prayers, readings and songs with contributions from APF members, trustees and friends, including Bishop Paul Bayes & Canon Paul Oestreicher.
Thursday 6th August 4pm, on Zoom.
To attend register here:
Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide a space for people associated with APF to express their own personal views and opinions in order to promote discussion of issues relating to peacemaking and pacifism It is not necessarily a place where the official views of APF are expressed.