‘Rest in peace, we shall not repeat the sin’

Published in the Greenfield Recorder, Monday, August 10, 2020

MY TURN

By SISTER CLARE CARTER

Year 2020 — Its nature is like a mirror: 20 – 20. The mirror makes us stop and look, and see more deeply. We cannot go blindly forward. 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the U.S. unleashing nuclear weapons on human populations in Japan. It is a time to see anew with the eyes of our hearts what the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced, and the true nature of nuclear weapons — the annihilation of life.

The Hibakusha — those who survived the atomic holocausts of August 1945 — eventually came together and found their voice, and mission to the world. To this day, they carry to world humanity the simple and powerful message: “NEVER AGAIN” “NO HUMAN BEING MUST EVER BE SUBJECTED AGAIN TO THIS EVIL.”

As we know, it was the United States which had the unstoppable will to bring nuclear weapons fully into being, and use them on human populations in 1945.

Decades of strong efforts within the U.S. and around the world have moved forward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. But even as we speak, eight other countries are nuclear- armed, and the U.S. manufactures new “usable” nuclear weapons.

Despite this, the transcendent cry of the Hibakusha seems louder and more penetrating than ever this year. Somehow, a new awakening is happening. Today, we move together, finally, with Black Lives Matter and efforts like the Poor People’s Campaign.

We are joining initiatives to change our way of life, to protect the life-giving natural world from greater instability. And we are stirred from our depths to come together to end the scourge of nuclear weapons and the fear-based thinking supporting them. The singular, unfaltering call of the Hibakusha cries out that the Treasure of Life belongs to us all equally, no exceptions. A new world can be born from the agonies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The mirror year of 2020 marks another significant anniversary — the 400 years since the Mayflower landed on these shores. Most of us learn that the Mayflower and First Thanksgiving show the blessed beginnings of this United States. But this year, the powerful marker of 400 years calls us to listen to the voices of Indigenous Peoples. We need to learn what the past four centuries have meant for the peoples whose ancestors faced and endured conquest on the sacred lands of their ancestors.

As these are the very lands on which we walk daily, we start to understand that the “seeds” of colonization planted four centuries ago have not been understood or addressed by the majority of us in the U.S.

And those unexamined, unrepented seeds have grown with time, making the dominant energy of the United States so strong with its exceptionalism, racism and militarism.

These seeds are the foundation from which the drive to make nuclear weapons, and use them, grew.

The coming together of these two powerful commemorations — 75 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki and 400 years marking the beginning of the colonization of Turtle Island by Europeans — are not an accident.

Looking back, we can find a way forward, based on a true understanding.

Year 2020: a time of collective pivoting, of reflection and the beginning of a courageous, deep and loving turning. All people are needed, all faiths, all cultures.

The power of bringing our hearts and minds together cannot be underestimated.

We now have wonderful instruments to empower the elimination of nuclear weapons, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, already signed by 122 countries, and ratified by 43, the last three on this year’s Aug. 6 anniversary. Just seven more countries and the treaty will become international law.

Here in Western Mass., we are fortunate to have initiatives like the Nolumbeka Project to help us learn and appreciate the ways of living with the Sacred characterized by the life of Indigenous Peoples, and begin to undo the injustice and violence of colonization.

“Rest in Peace, We Shall Not Repeat the Sin” reads the inscription addressed to the spirits of the deceased at the memorial in Hiroshima. The “we” is addressed to all who come; but as U.S. residents we take it strongly to heart.

The moral will of the people can prevail. We will overcome this great peril to all life. By learning the Truth of the past, a new soul-force can arise for the sake of Life, of Peace. A new understanding and envisioning of living in balance, generosity and gratitude, believing in humanity, believing in the world.

Clare Carter is a Buddhist nun at the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett

Copyright © 2020 Greenfield Recorder 8/10/2020