"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I Will Write Peace on Your Wings


I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.”

These are the words of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who, at the age of 12, developed leukemia in 1955, from the effects of radiation caused by the bombing of Hiroshima. While hospitalized, her closest friend reminded her of the Japanese legend that if she folded a thousand paper cranes, the gods might grant her wish to be well again. She wanted not only to live, but also to spread a message of peace, and so Sadako began folding. She died after folding 644 paper cranes, but her story continues to inspire people to fold cranes.

The bombings of Hiroshima (August 6th) and Nagasaki (August 9th) set off a frenzy of nuclear madness that found the world threatened by tens of thousands of nuclear weapons at the height of the Cold War. Even now, many years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, after squandering our “peace dividend”, the superpowers still have thousands of nuclear weapons ready to launch on warning, and many other nations have or are attempting to build nuclear arsenals.

The United States and Russia have finally begun serious negotiations to reduce their nuclear arsenals, but until they make major reductions, many other nations will continue to strive for membership in the once exclusive (and deadly) nuclear club. The era of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is over, and the new age of nuclear weapons has made the concept of deterrence obsolete.

The historian Howard Zinn once said, “I was a bombardier in WW 2. When you are up 30,000 feet you do not hear the screams or smell the blood or see those without limbs or eyes. It was not till I read Hersey's Hiroshima that I realized what bomber pilots do.” Indeed, the bombardiers in the planes that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not see the faces of the countless human beings - men, women and children - who were incinerated in an instant. Neither do the scientists, engineers and others who construct (or make the decision to use) the weapons capable of such bloodshed.

In my own efforts to walk the path of peace I have learned to fold origami cranes as a meditation, a prayer and as a personal statement of my deep desire for peace and the abolition of the scourge of nuclear weapons. It helps me stay focused on the important work of advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The cranes I fold are a daily reminder of the beauty and hope that exists in this world, and how it is up to each of us to transform our hope and faith into actions that, in our collective efforts, will bring peace to this bruised world.

We may not see the results of much of our work for peace in this life, but we keep up that work all the same, much like Sadako and her origami cranes. We can only do our best, and pass our craft on to others to continue where we leave off. We are much like weavers, creating a fabric that is never finished; it is (to paraphrase Thomas Merton) always “in becoming”.

And so I write peace on the wings of each crane I fold, and let that message fly all over the world.

You can find events to attend (in the U.S.) marking the 64th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at Peace Action, and some international events at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.



1 comment:

  1. I've been to Peace Memorial Park and seen Sadako's statue and all 'her' cranes. It's very moving. As is your post.
    Thanks, Leonard.