I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Peace Fleet's meaningful message - We can afford peace!!!

Ahoy me heartys!!!  The U.S. Navy's War Fleet was a no-show in Seattle's Elliott Bay today for the annual Seafair festivities thanks to the government's attempts to pinch pennies (well, actually millions $$$).  No cheerleading for militarism and warmaking today!!!  Landlubbers who showed up at the Seattle waterfront today were still treated to a seagoing (albeit nonviolent) spectacle.  The Peace Fleet was out to share the message that "We can afford peace."  That's pretty hard to argue with, considering the fact the warmaking is bankrupting our nation.  Check out the Peace Fleet in this KIRO News clip.

Although the Navy's parade of warships and flying exploits by the Blue Angels (in Seattle) costs taxpayers $millions$ every year, the Peace Fleet didn't cost taxpayers a dime.  And when it comes down to the bottom line, peace is priceless.  Linda Newton, who is a member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and Veterans for Peace, explained on the six o’clock news, “We don’t need funding to come here with our hearts and our souls and make a stand for what we believe in.”

YES, We Can!!!
Ooooh Aaaargh.  Here's to an end to militarism and to a nonviolent, peaceful world for all.  Peace IS Priceless!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

HIROSHIMA: Remembering (and honoring) the Hibakusha

Barefoot Gen: Nakazawa’s Writing the Truth

Keiji Nakazawa was born in Hiroshima, Japan on March 14, 1939.  On Aug. 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped, he was walking to school and stopped to answer a question from an adult.  At 8:15 am, Nakazawa’s whole world changed: “a pale light like the flash of a flashbulb camera, white at the center, engulfed me, a great ball of light with yellow and red mixed at its out edge.”

Keiji was standing next to a concrete wall and was partially shielded from the blast.  The adult he had been speaking to was burned to death on the spot. There was more horror to come: His father, brother and sister were burned alive while trapped in the rubble of their home.  His mother, who was nine months pregnant, gave birth on the day of the bombing to a girl who died a few weeks later.

Like many Japanese people, Nakazawa and his family suffered from poverty and hunger after the war, and survivors of the bombing (known in Japanese as hibakusha) were often actively discriminated against in postwar Hiroshima.  In 1961, Nakazawa moved to Tokyo to become a full-time cartoonist, and produced short pieces for manga1 anthologies.  Even after he moved to Tokyo, the discrimination persisted

If you said that you were a hibakusha matter-of-factly, among friends, they made weird faces.  … if someone says, “I’m a hibakusha,” Tokyo people won’t touch the tea bowl from which he’s been drinking, because they’ll catch radioactivity.  They’ll no longer get close to you.

For six years, Nakazawa kept quiet about his experiences.

Following the death of his mother in 1966, Nakazawa returned to his memories of the destruction of Hiroshima and began to express them in his stories.   Kuroi Ame ni Utarete (Struck by Black Rain), the first of a series of five books, was a fictional story of Hiroshima survivors involved in the postwar black market.  Nakazawa chose to portray his own experience of the Hiroshima bombing in the 1972 story, Ore wa Mita, later published in the U.S. by Educomics as I Saw It.2

Immediately after completing I Saw It, Nakazawa began his major work, Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen).  This series, which eventually filled ten volumes (six volumes in the English translation), was based on the same events as I Saw It but fictionalized, with the young Gen as a stand-in for the author.  Barefoot Gen depicted the bombing and its aftermath in graphic detail but also turned a critical eye on the militarization of Japanese society during World War II and on the sometimes abusive dynamics of the traditional family.  Barefoot Gen was adapted into two animated films and a live action TV drama.

Keiji Nakazawa died of lung cancer on December 19, 2012.

For all his efforts, Nakazawa published millions of books addressing his first-hand knowledge of the horrors of nuclear weapons.  Who will tell the story now?

[1] Manga are comics created in Japan, or by Japanese creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century.  In Japan, people of all ages read manga.  The medium includes works in a broad range of genres: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, suspense, detective, horror, sexuality, and business/commerce, among others.

[2] Nakazawa’s I Saw It is available from Educomics in Seattle, at 206-985-9483 or rifas@earthlink.net.


Editor's Note:  This post is from a leaflet created by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action as part of its commemoration of the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  You can view and download the PDF version of the leaflet by clicking here.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
16159 Clear Creek Rd NW, Poulsbo WA  98370
360-930-8697   info@gzcenter.org