“…the grief of stepping over the corpses of history pressed upon my heart.” Yoko Ota
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On August 6, 1945, the United States detonated one of two nuclear weapons over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The other was detonated over Nagasaki three days later.
Little Boy was the name given to the bomb that leveled Hiroshima. It was carried in a B-29 plane known as Enola Gay, named after the pilot Paul Tibbets’ mother.
Imagine. A mother sending her little boy off to blow himself up, knowing in the process he would kill an estimated 140,000 of a city’s 350,000 population. No Jihadist could ever achieve such a lofty goal. But really, how can we process such events to make them palatable? There must be ways to do it, even if they make no sense.
And so, we name the most destructive weapon ever unleashed on humanity Little Boy.
At the bomb’s epicenter, people were vaporized. Further away, many survived only to die slow horrible deaths over the coming months. Those who experienced it and lived to tell the tale told how they had no past reference point from which to process what had happened. They thought they had been transported to hell.
A college professor described it as such: “I climbed Hikiyama Hill and looked down. I saw that Hiroshima had disappeared… I was shocked by the sight… What I felt then and still feel now I just can’t explain with words. Of course, I saw many dreadful scenes after that—but that experience, looking down and finding nothing left of Hiroshima—was so shocking that I simply can’t express what I felt… Hiroshima didn’t exist—that was mainly what I saw—Hiroshima just didn’t exist.”
The writer Yoko Ota: “I reached a bridge and saw that the Hiroshima Castle had been completely leveled to the ground, and my heart shook like a great wave… the grief of stepping over the corpses of history pressed upon my heart.”
The United States had shown its might. Who could stand against it? The war ended.
But not the mad scramble between competing nations to create more weapons of “mass destruction.”
There are now nearly 14,000 nuclear warheads around the world held mostly by America, Russia and China. After much struggle, suffering and discoveries, humanity has finally reached the pinnacle where it has the ability to obliterate itself, more than a few times over.
WWII was the deadliest war in history. An estimated total of 70–85 million people perished, or about 3% of the 1940 world population. 19–28 million of those deaths were from war-related disease and famine.
But it was WWI that started it all. Apart from the violence, at least 2 million died from diseases. About one third of the total military deaths were caused by the 1918 flu pandemic as well as deaths of prisoners of war.
WWI was often called the “chemists war.” The Germans were the first to use gases on a large scale, in an attack in January of 1915, when they dropped 18,000 chemical shells loaded with xylyl bromide on Russian lines near Rawka River west of Warsaw. Thankfully, as so often happened with Russia, the brutal winter rendered the chemical useless as it froze instead of vaporizing.
German chemist Fritz Haber, who received the Nobel Prize in chemistry, developed the chlorine used on April 22nd, 1915, deployed from 5,730 cylinders against allied forces just north of Ypres in Belgium. At first, it looked like nothing would happen, but then the winds shifted and the gas spread, affecting both Germans and Allied troops indiscriminately. It was the first major use of poisonous gas and lead to the research of over 3,000 gases that could be used in war.
Haber’s success earned him the name ‘Father of Chemical Warfare,’ as his adaptation of chlorine led to widespread advancements in chemical use. He also helped develop the gas mask, which, ironically, aided in lessening the number of casualties caused by the very chemical weapons he had worked to create.
hink of the masks that we are now being ordered to wear against an invisible disease spreading amongst us, unleashed by an unknown enemy for an unknown reason.
Now, look again at the masks these men wore to protect themselves. Do you think they would dare take them off? Certainly not. They knew exactly what they were up against. If the gases were released on them without the masks, they would suffer and die in horrific agony, there was no question about it.
And then, turn your thoughts once more to the cloth muzzles we now wear on our faces. The charade becomes disturbingly laughable. There has been no evidence that masks impede the transmission of aerosols implicated in the spread of COVID-19.
Yet here we are, still wearing these diapers on our faces and being told we will have to keep doing so indefinitely.
What are we supposed to be protecting ourselves from? What does warfare look like going forward?
Anything can happen once the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, ushering in 2022. Anything at all.
Will Omicron suddenly turn more deadly? Will a new disease rear its ugly head? Will the fighting escalate across Europe? Will civil war break out in the United States?
How will we face these challenges? Everything about our response to COVID thus far has left us weaker, angrier, more demoralized, divided, confused, and worn down by the psychological battle being waged upon us.
As we move forward to the next disaster, we can only wonder how people will deal with it when they are already filled with such confusion. In the world wars of the past, we knew what we were fighting against. We had a tangible enemy. The victory was clear.
Where is the victory over this virus?
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