Entry #3 – No More. We’re Done.

Hi, Kohaku here. I hope everyone had a great week.

The past few days have been hard, don’t you think?

Right now we are dealing with the aftermath of several mass shootings in the US: Gilroy, California at the end of last month, and back-to-back shootings last weekend in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. These have been covered a lot by local media. Please look them up, if you haven’t heard about them. There are also many other horrific events that haven’t been covered as much, in part because they are all too normal nowadays. Meanwhile the protests in Hong Kong rage on, typhoons and heat waves batter Southeast Asia (and other parts of the world), and tensions between Japan and South Korea are incredibly high…

This week, we also passed the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

To honor the over one-hundred thousand people who died, as well as all those who still live, I spent this week writing and posting a series of poetry based on these events. I was having a hard time reconciling how little progress we seem to have made since then. Here are the poems in order, if you haven’t read them all:

Perhaps, I should make my thoughts and intentions more clear… Yes, I perfectly understand that Japan and Japanese people did some very terrible things during the war. Particularly because I am Taiwanese, I know this very well. But America also did some very terrible things during the war. Every country did. Please, I am tired of people trying to evaluate history through the lens of “which side had the moral high ground?” I am tired of people saying, “well, Japan did this, so that justified America doing that.” Please stop trying to say that one side or one action was more just or ethical compared to another. It may well be, but it’s too late for that now.

This week, it is not the individual countries and their actions that I condemn. What I condemn is war. What I condemn is the mistakes of humanity as a whole, our willingness to destroy ourselves, our willingness to drop atomic bombs on each other and kill thousands of people in a single instant. What I condemn is our failure to learn from the past, our failure to get rid of our nuclear weapons after seeing how terrible they can be, our desire to keep making more and more weapons that are many times more powerful, many times more horrible, in the name of ‘global power’ and ‘national security’…

Tell me, how can anyone be safe in a world where almost 14,000 nuclear weapons still exist?

And how can anyone be safe in a world where weapons of war can be legally possessed by civilians roaming the streets?

The atomic bombings may have been seventy-four years ago, but they are still very, very real today. Every time there is a war, every time we are brought to the brink of one, every time there is a mass shooting or bombing or arson, part of me is angry, and another part is incredibly sad. We should have learned long, long ago that humanity cannot live like this. But we still haven’t learned. Even the atomic bombings could not teach us. So what can? What now?

No more war. No more nukes. I am tired of this. We are one global community, and we have to start acting like it, or we’re done.

This week, communicate with your loved ones, your friends, your family. Talk to them and listen to them and hear them out, even if you had an argument, even if you disagree with what they’re doing, even if you can’t bear their political beliefs. Stay close out of love and hope for peace. And together, teach your children – and each other – to value life. Human life, and non-human life. Your own life, and the lives of those different from you. If we are to survive and be happy, we cannot continue making the mistakes of the past.

As always, take care of yourself.

KT

黙祷

As the time approaches I close my eyes;
The world fills with our empty sighs;
I want to pray, but the words won’t come –
And deep inside, my heart is numb.

How can I go on living?

For all those who were there, I cried –
For those who lived, and those who died;
But the rain today refuses to fall,
And all I feel is incredibly small.

It’s not the time that has dried my tears –
Though the days have quickly turned into years;
It’s the incredible failure of humanity to move,
To learn from the past and force itself to improve.

I don’t know how much longer here I can stay,
From this silent prayer to the end of the day;
This legacy is too much of a burden to bear,
Made worse by the refusal of thousands to care.

Our history is tangible in this moment of time,
In all of its glories and its war-filled crime,
And as it cements into our future and past,
I pray for the dead and for those who still last.

A Single Star-Filled Sky

As the darkness sets in I gaze up at the sky,
Wishing I had the ability to fly –
But I don’t even know where it is that you are,
So where would I head, for how long and how far?
The light is fading, and without you I’m stuck here,
But strangely tonight this produces no fear;
Just counting the bombs like I would count passing cars,
Knowing that you and I are now seeing the same stars.

On the other side of the horizon line,
You live in a world that’s no better than mine,
Full of clumsy creatures who act without thinking,
Who commit acts of destruction without even blinking.
They say that two minuses are supposed to make a plus,
So should we let two countries war without making a fuss?
I love you all, but it’s beyond my control –
Humanity is determined to rip apart my soul.

Dozens of years have come and gone,
And here we are at the edge of dawn,
Repeating ourselves like a song on replay,
Crawling desperately toward the end of the day.
The ground cracks open beneath my feet,
You wrap your child in a bloodstained sheet,
They whisper “I’m sorry” and pretend to care,
While celebrating nothing but death and despair.

Gazing at the same sea of stars, you and I,
We wonder how quickly our time will fly,
Praying we’ll live long enough to see
A world where love will be finally set free.
But tonight I understand that it’s only a dream –
One we can’t reach, one still too extreme.
I hoped we would meet in the future some day –
But tonight I am dying, so alone we will stay.

Even

Even when the last leaf falls from the tree,
Even when the last creature drowns in the sea,
I will take you by the hand and say,
“I’m glad I am alive today.”

There’s so much that we do not know,
So much the gods have yet to show,
But if our time here must now end,
I’ll go freely, so that our world can mend.

Our era was brief, but brief is just a word;
All I see now are the smoking feathers of a bird.
It’s trying to rise, but only spreading the flames,
Killing itself with its ignorant aims.

Even at the flash of a nuclear bomb,
Even at the end of the final calm,
I will throw out both my arms and say,
“I still believe in peace today.”

To what we have done, no thing can compare,
And we continue to do it on a childish dare,
As if life and balance are toys to be played,
Then tossed in the trash once we move up a grade.

Beautiful creatures now incapable of love,
We’ve chased away our single white dove.
It returns despite abuse to fly over our heads –
But by the end of the day, we have torn it to shreds.

Even as an assault rifle lets loose its roar,
Even as the schoolchildren dive to the floor,
I will close my eyes and say,
“I will not give up hope today.”