As we remember the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, 1945, we can’t help but ask, how far have we come?

So, here are my thoughts.

 

Grasping the ‘Truth’

Many years ago, I was handed Mao Tse-Tung’s Little Red Book of quotations as I was sailing up the Calabar River, Nigeria, on an erratic wood-fired steamer on my way to resuscitating a wrecked hospital and nursing school. Maybe I was targeted by the smart young Nigerian because I was the only European on board. However, on landing, although I was too busy to read most of the contents, I was struck by one quotation from 1938;

‘Every communist must grasp the truth, Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”

With a civil war in full spate in Nigeria, it seemed grimly apt. Although in this case it was blockade and starvation, rather than bullets that led to Biafra’s extinction as a nation.

 

Now, the stakes are even higher

Nearly 80 years later and 72 years since the atomic bomb was first drop, where have we come?

Sadly, it appears that violence is still the usual way that Kingdoms and Presidencies are established and preserved.

August 6 reminds us, that since Mao wrote those words, the stakes have risen and power now grows out of a nuclear silo.

 

But what is this Truth?

Unfortunately, violent power dictates it’s own truth and this inevitably distorts honesty, fairness and respect for others point of view.

Mao also conformed to the conventional truths when he says,

 ”We are advocates of the abolition of war….but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

So, Pilate was probably wearily sincere when he asked that famous question of Jesus, ‘What is Truth?’ (John.18.38). Truth for him had to be his Emperor’s latest tweet.

 

What is our Truth?

The challenge for us who continue to live in a world where many are addicted to violence and power, is how to hold fast to that which is good (Romans 12.9.) and follow Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life. (John 14.6)

One suggestion from Him is that we are to be as salt (Matthew 5.13) which is to be rubbed into the world to preserve it’s freshness and goodness, and prevent it’s decay and putrefaction. A process that also enhances our tasting of God’s good creation.

Jesus’ Kingdom has come to us on earth and he says we live in the Kingdom of Heaven when we admit our vulnerability and need of God. Surprisingly, it is the meek who will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5.3&5.)

So, the violent overthrowing of a gun barrel culture is not for us. Our way has to be by ‘submitting’ (which is not slavish obedience) (Romans 13.1) to the powers, and then living Jesus, the constant truth, along-side the shifty truths of those hungry for power.

 

The Stakes are high but there is hope

Pope Francis has disarmed the just war, and the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is to be signed by 122 nations in September. Both of these moves will make it easier for sanity to prevail in our turbulent world.

And finally, I find it reassuring that the moment of absolute truth, and the end of all violent power, will be signalled by the last Trump (1.corinthians 15.52)

So, let us remember and honour August 6 by renewing our commitment to live God’s truth alone.

 

 

Contributed by the Chairman of APF New Zealand, Jonathan Hartfield – This is what he had to say about himself: Grew up in Hastings UK. Trained at St.Georges Hospital, Had an exciting and turbulent time in Nigeria in 60s. Moved to NZ 1971. Worked as specialist Obst &Gyn, later palliative care in a Hospice. Retired from medicine 2013. Ordained priest 1986. We have 4 children 9 grand children. Enthusiastic gardener and choir singer.

 

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