Nuclear weapons are, for most people, an abstract concept; a concept that exists in the mind (if at all), without any concrete existence. Today's nuclear weapons are kept out of sight and out of mind, not just to protect them from those pesky terrorists (and plowshares activists) but also from the public's awareness. But for the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some of whom are alive today, these weapons are anything but an abstraction, and they are very much aware of the existence of today's nuclear weapons.
Sixty-five years after the atomic bombings we continue working to keep the memory of these horrific events alive, and we typically do so by sharing the facts about and experience of the bombings through written and spoken word, photographs, art, as well as through testimony of survivors of the bombings (Hibakusha).
At last week's From Hiroshima to Hope lantern floating ceremonies at Green Lake in Seattle, Washington, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Poster Exhibition (from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum) was on display. I was, however, most deeply touched by a presentation of dance accompanied by music that artistically portrayed the bomb and its effects on people far beyond its physical effects. The Bomb and the Hope, an original dance choreographed by iori Yoshimura, is a powerful and moving piece that is (as the title states) about the Bomb, but even more so about Hope.
In the dance a widow comes in searching for her husband, sees him dead, and experiences terrible grief. Then the bomb enters, and when it sees what it has done it feels the magnificence of its power and intimidates the widow, who initially succumbs, feeling fear that reaches such a peak the bomb gets excited and strikes at the widow. Her fear is so great that the widow falls back, feeling that she can't go on - a turning point.
The bomb questions itself; "Is this all I have? Fear? The widow finally approaches the bomb, and touches it. At that moment the bomb questions how the widow can forgive. The bomb then goes off in awe, transformed. The widow takes off her shawl, which has hidden her grief, and walks off, ready to go on.
The Bomb and the Hope was choreographed by iori Yoshimura, danced by iori Yoshimura (as the widow) and Heather Porter (as Pika, the white lightening of the atomic bomb), with accompaniment by Denny Moore on the Native American flute.
I was deeply moved by the spirit of this beautiful dance. It is a testament of the power of the arts to touch our innermost reaches, allowing us to see things in a different light, and perhaps helping lead to our own inner transformation along the nonviolent path. Perhaps The Bomb and the Hope will reach many who have not yet been able to see the atomic bombings as anything more than historical events or sets of statistics. Perhaps it will transform people by helping them see the power of forgiveness.
Watch the video and decide for yourself.