"The Final War", by Thomas Takashi Tanemori

An Opinion---Essay on Nuclear Tests by India & Pakistan


As we approach the coming 21st century, we mark a time that has been distinguished by both copious bloodletting and enormous scientific advances. Perhaps we should consider a valued objective to celebrate the hope of Peace on Earth and promote a deeper, more meaningful healing among those peoples who have suffered the pain of this century's wars.

We have been profoundly disturbed by the images of people in the streets of Calcutta and Islamabad joyously celebrating the birth of nuclear weapons in their countries. Though I have come to understand the strategic necessity of atomic weapons in WWII and their role in ending the war, I am terribly concerned about their introduction into the religious and ethnic maelstrom of the Third World. Perhaps the nation of India, individual civilians, instead of dancing on the street for joy, should be mourning for its government having succeeded nuclear bomb tests, as it is re-newel of threatening and heightening, as demonstrative of destructive power for human race.

Today we live in a time when the world is experiencing its first important transformation since the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Unfortunately history has proven, over half century since the end of the Second World War, we all are facing the tremendous struggle, as individual nations, ethnic groups and religious differences, being unable to find meaning in an emerging New World Order. Now as the human race struggles out of its cocoon, even before it learns how to emerge into the light, we find that it is in danger of, and capable of, destroying the whole world. These actions led me to the inevitable question: "Why, with the hope for peace generated by the end of the Cold War, is the world increasingly proving that it is still too easy to go to war to settle the human conflicts"? On a daily basis, we are overwhelmed with the horrors of international violence, cultural violence, religious violence and personal violence. Much of the suffering is a result of historical conflicts that have devolved into an unending cycle of revenge and despair.

I know this because when I was 8 years old and at 7/10th of a mile from Ground Zero, the atomic bomb changed my life forever. I lost both my parents and four other members of my immediate family. Harboring my anger in shadows of private sorrow, I lived in the ashes of postwar Japan as an "Oyanashigo" - a war torn boy. Finding the only alternative to maintain what was shredded, the honorable family name and my torn dignity, I fought against the traditional Japanese culture that reveres unbroken filial relationship, a fight that I ultimately lost. I was not even worthy of suicide, I failed at that, too. I was 16 years old.

I came to America in 1956 as an embittered teenager, trying to contain my anger and seek "revenge" on American people. I was marooned by a dark and bitter past, and wrestled with the persistent ghosts of history and I learned what means to be a minority, Japanese, in America. Yet, in time, I have experienced my own "inner-spiritual-transformation"; I discovered the importance of healing the human heart, turning "from revenge to forgiveness."

I wondered where did we go wrong to see the current world events, testing of nuclear bombs by both India and Pakistan? It is not an exaggeration to say that much of the present world "fabrics" could be said to have been woven between East and West, especially Eastern philosophy, religious truth and early threads in the fabric of commerce which began their roots back over the centuries in the nation of India. For example, it was the desire for silk and spices that first brought Europeans to the Far East in the 13th century and eventually led to the discovery of the New World. The gossamer treasure produced by the silkworm has been seen as a powerful symbol for the cultural sensibilities of the entire Orient. Yet, it is the transformation of the insect itself that somehow still fascinates us the most for its creation of something of beauty from the sacrifice of its own life.

Unfortunately, as history bears witness, the nation of India succumbed to the British military power, and became her colony. In spite of this, despite the subjugation, the people of India endured the shame and disgrace for centuries. They endured by their own sense of national pride, coupled with the spirit of Buddhism, and subsequently also by the life and the spirit of Gandhi that stood for the test of time and against human ignorance.

In retrospect, I do empathized with the people of India, as a nation, for Japan also stood in the same place shortly after the opening of "Sakoku" of Tokugawa Shogunate Regime. Since July 8, 1853, Japan was confronted by the mighty military western power of the "Four Black Ships of Mien". As the waves of American aggression increased, Japan's own national cultural identity and her own amiable qualities were tempered by a strong sense of vulnerability.

It was in this manner that Commodore Perry, the Navy Decatur and "Farragut", and the display of power by the United States looming over this small race of people of Japan had their intended effect. Although this political/military imposition led to what was known as the "Wood and Water" Treaty, it also led to all subsequent acts. Beginning with the first US Consul Townsend Harris, it was a symbol of aggression, treacherousness and deceitfulness. Despite some differences, they had the same adrenal effects on Japanese temper.

The Emperor realized that "self-protection" was of primary importance and the rest of the world must be met on its own terms. Japan was forced to model after the Western nations, motivated by the spirit of the "Kokutai Yusen", or "Rich nation with mighty military power", for clinging to national dignity, identity and survival as a sovereign nation. She only then could stand equal with the rest of the Western military powers.

Could this be the case of the nation of India for arming herself to defend, protect and promote her own national security and lines of national interests? One must wonder.

Of course, nearly a century later, the defeat in World War II was not only devastating for the Japanese people and their nation, but it also caused untold millions of sacrifices and suffering of many nations. Japan's "power" to make war was confiscated and then she found herself for the first time more influential and powerful in peacetime than ever in war.

As a survivor of Hiroshima, I can't help but wonder, what purpose does India now feel it has for using the power of nuclear weapons -- to serve the neighboring countries and the rest of world? Do Indian people think this way is the only way to bring to the end of prolonged underlying political/cultural and national enmities that are so difficult to extinguish when countries have been at war in (at) heart in subjugation to the foreign power for so long? Does the nation of Indian, as if she is a bird finally setting herself free from the birdcage, feel that this will lead to soaring into the blue yonder?

How dare we ourselves continue on the path of an endless cycle of repeated revengeful ways to deal with our own hearts, let alone our neighbors? I wonder what happened to those followers of Gandhi's since his death? Would they continue to carry out his spirit and message for peace by non-violence- harmony, instead of supporting the government leaders in the development of destructive nuclear bombs?

It is now essential that we all, more than ever before, seek a New Beginning. The new way must not resort to violence, guns and war and it must put national enmity, ethnic hatred, cultural divisiveness, differing religious beliefs and personal conflicts and differences to an end -- not only for our sake but for the sake of our children and the future generations to inherit the Earth. Let's give them a better Earth than the one we inherited.

What is the solution? We survivors bear silent witness to the horrors of war. Our experience gives us the moral authority to stand for peace. It is important to recognize that this is also a time of unparalleled opportunity to assist the change in the world order in the direction of peaceful cooperation.

It is no longer the time for recrimination, but it is the time for reconciliation, healing and forgiving and making peace with our painful past. Perhaps this is the greatest and most difficult battle (war) we must yet fight, if we the human race are to survive peacefully among ourselves.

I feel strongly that the survivors are the link and the key to healing this horrible and painful past, not the world political leaders. It is only by acknowledging and accepting their suffering that we can truly understand the consequences of hatred, fear and divisiveness in the human heart.

In the "I Ching," the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, the Hexagram called Breakthrough ponders how to deal with evil and the horrors of the human experience. Its conclusion is that "the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good."

I wish to have the opportunity to meet you (people of India/West Pakistan) in person and to share my heart. Hopefully, this would give a chance for the world to look carefully at it's recent history, assess its responsibilities to its children, and commit itself to working for international harmony.

It is towards this end I am calling upon all individual citizens of the nations to commit themselves to the urgent need to end racial and ethnic hatred, religious conflicts, social and cultural prejudice by living with the Three- Fold Pinciples of (1) "Jidai Yusen", sacrifice of one's immediate needs for a higher moral purpose, (2) "Mugai-Kyoei", reverence for life -- respecting others as different individuals, non-violence and (3) "Jita-Kyoei", the practice of living for the benefit of others.

These principles were instilled in me before my father's death. I believe that in this way the people of India and Pakistan, and the rest of us including the governmental leaders, all sects of religious leaders, individual citizens and the rest of world, will demonstrate the true spirits of Buddha, Gandhi, the teaching Christ and our own innate moral values for a sense of hope that would direct ourselves toward global peace.

Respectfully, I am,

Thomas Takashi Tanemori, June 18, 1998
Silkworm Peace Foundation http://www.silkworm.org
3371 Moraga Blvd. #100
Lafayette, CA 94549-4641 USA

E-mail: SilkwormPI@aol.com

Background on Mr. Tanemori and Silkworm Peace Institute
Mr. Tanemori at Global Crisis Solutions Conference
Global Peace Walk HOMEPAGE
HOMEPAGE: Global Emergency Alert Response