Some stories need to be shouted out loud

What a week it’s been. Besides the ugly news headlines that appear regularly these days, we’ve had the annual remembrances of the terrible suffering caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As controversial as the bombings were, we can all agree that war causes great suffering for civilians caught up in it. Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs, was so wrong when he said death by the bombs was “without undue suffering” and “a very pleasant way to die.” At what point does the extent of suffering become a war crime?

Today, on August 9, besides being the anniversary of Nagasaki’s incineration, the world remembers another controversial event—the death of Michael Brown of Ferguson, the now infamous little suburb of St. Louis. Regardless of what Mike Brown did or did not do to result in his death, we should all agree that African-Americans in the US still face discrimination and too many become lost by living amidst despairing poverty. At what point does the extent of suffering become a war cry?

St. Louis is still struggling with the results of Mike Brown’s battle cry. His story was a shout out loud that forced us to listen and think, to argue but hopefully learn something about ourselves, and maybe even to step out of our bubbles and actively work for a better world. Someone I love, a Caucasian-American mother of bi-racial children here, has her own stories to tell. With her permission, I am including this message she posted on Facebook this morning:

* * *

I can’t sleep … It’s 4:00 in the morning on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, and I can’t sleep. The weight of having a sweet, hardworking, smart and kind, but black husband and two loving, free spirited, happy but caramel babies has hit me like a ton of bricks. It has been coming. When we were first dating at 16, babies ourselves, and people would say, “but I worry about your kids.” Or when a client I was working with would notice the picture of my husband and I gazing into each other’s eyes on our wedding day and say, “but your husband is different.” Or just the other day when I had a brief conversation with a sweet mom, who has heard these same words, and now worries about sending her children to the elementary school I went to and that we recently moved near so my children could attend, because there are no other black kids in this part of the district. Or when a lady tells me she feels like she’s living in Ferguson because there were more black people at her gas station, having no idea the man I call home could have been filling up that day. When someone argues, “All lives matter.” I’m awake. I see it. And it’s exhausting. I do not know if we are brave enough to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” but we’re rolling, full steam ahead. Let’s do this thing.

* * * * * * *

For a beautifully painted story that focuses on hope and healing and is suitable for all ages, you may like the book Painting for Peace in Ferguson by Carol Swartout Klein, an artist who grew up in Ferguson, Missouri.

Painting-for-peace-in-Ferguson-bookcover

Show us how through care and goodness
fear will die and hope increase.

-from the hymn “For the Healing of the Nations,” words by Fred Kaan

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About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), and cats
This entry was posted in bad memories, heritage, history and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Some stories need to be shouted out loud

  1. Thank you for sharing your friend’s moving message. No, nothing is easy. We are a Rainbow Family. My husband’s sister is married to an amazing black man, and their brilliant carmel babies are grown. One has been working for the Japanese government for three years and thrives over there. The other is fumbling her way through an art degree at a small college. We have two Asian/European-American grandchildren.

    In 1995 I attended a multi-year reunion of Los Alamos High School grads from the earliest years through the 70s. The reunion was in Albuquerque, because Los Alamos lacked facilities for such a large gathering. We were’t the only reunion at that huge hotel that weekend. In space adjoining ours, a reunion of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was underway. Our commemorative T-shirt had a mushroom cloud. OMG! Few people bought and fewer wore. I still shudder at the memory and my feeling of something like shame. I could not look those people in the eye, even though my family did not move to Los Alamos until 1951, and my father worked on reactors, not bombs. I’ve learned a lot since then, and today I’d try to engage a few of them in conversation, but … I did not know how back then.

    Yes, let’s get on with Being the Change!

    • Yikes, Sharon, I hope the survivors didn’t see much of those t-shirts! Well, we grow by discovering new perspectives. I’m glad your nephew is enjoying Japan. Being a non-Japanese or even having half-Japanese heritage in Japan can have its own challenges.

  2. Mustang.Koji says:

    Your thoughts bring up an infinity of more thoughts and feelings indeed. I no longer think about who was right or wrong for using the bombs although all my Hiroshima cousins literally felt its explosion. There are truths and mistruths on either side of the ocean… as well as if someone is a dove or hawk.

    Racism or discrimination exists in one’s soul. It was either bred into them or taught to them in one way or another. That goes for any “race”. But no matter how many laws are passed, it will likely not change their soul.

    I am not racist… But that is not to say if I spot a man in a hoodie and shorts that hang down to his thigh in an area that puts him out of place that I wouldn’t steer clear of him… and that goes without seeing the color of his skin.

    I do hope nukes will never be used again.

    • Hi, Koji-san! Yes, arguing round and round about whether evil is justified or not does not change what was done. War is full of evil and sadly there will always be wars thanks to the unpleasant side of human nature. All we can hope for is no more atomic bombs.

      Humans and other animals have a survival instinct to be suspicious of what is different or apparently out of place, nothing wrong with trying to stay alive. We just have to temper that with reason, and by not lumping all hoodies together as bad, but seeing the behavior and attitude in each of those hoodies. Not all hoodies are alike!

  3. shirleyhs says:

    I feel the pain in this post and the pain in our country. Thank you for encouraging the best in all of us even as we are forced to look into the face of the worst –violence, poverty, war, and racism.

    I too want to be part of the change.

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