Source: Mothers for Nuclear | Kristin Zaitz | February 5, 2018
It is easier for us now in the 21st century to think about the atomic bomb in a more philosophical way. For many alive today, the detonation of an atomic bomb is a thing we talk about and hypothesize about but not something we’ve lived through. It is more difficult to approach this topic with empathy if we do not make our best effort to understand what happened, to feel the impact, to let the emotion penetrate our souls.
I consider myself to be an empathetic person, but as such I can often find it emotionally unbearable to let myself constantly feel the wide range of emotions that comes with attempting to understand the experiences of others. We would all be emotional disasters if we didn’t put up some barriers. But as it goes with emotional barriers, it’s hard to know you’re using them until they are challenged and something that you didn’t realize was there at all cracks and lets emotion flood through.
To challenge our mental models, Heather and I watched a powerful Hiroshima documentary on the flight from California to Tokyo. As our plane flew somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, the screen in front of us recounted the horrors of the atomic bomb – mass devastation of families, men, women, children, young, old, all being ruthlessly incinerated by the initial blast, crushed by the rubble, burned in the subsequent fires, or sickened by radiation exposure. The narrator told a story of a mother who watched her young daughter burn to death before her eyes, trapped in the rubble of their collapsed home. Both of us turned into sobbing messes in the back row, and the weight of this humanitarian horror fell across my heart in a new way. Even now as I type this memory, I can’t stop the emotions from flooding in. My young children are safe at home with their father, and our unborn child travels with me – there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect them. The mothers and fathers of Hiroshima felt the same way, yet they were powerless to protect their children from the devastation of the bomb.