Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Nagasaki Sunset

After the light stabs

sword-sharp out of the clear sky,

wielded in fierce wrath;

after the heat swells

like a river, a long tide

that shines like a tear;

after the thunder

beats the world, hammer of a

hard and foreign god;

after winds sear this

fragile paper land with a

last Kamikaze;

after the earth moves

thoughtless as a small

sleeping child’s finger;

after this flower

blooms and is fading like bright

autumn confetti;

afterward, silence,

then, and the light fades

in Nagasaki sunset.


I wrote this string of haikus some 25 years ago. It was a January, so can't really be considered a commemoration. Notice how I paint Japan in such delicate images. I really do seem to have taken sides. I've changed a few words, this quarter-century later, in deference to my greater perspective. A lot can change between your early 20s and your late 40s. But even so -- poor Japan.

But Japan is "poor" only because it lost the war. It is not arrogant now, only because it was humbled. We can pity the criminal even as he endures his punishment. But the criminal must be stopped. And Japan needed to be defeated. When it was pillaging the Far East it felt no pity for its victims. Japan was no better than Hitler, and it was no better than al-Qaeda. It was a slave power, and needed to be destroyed. What would the world be, if Japan had prevailed? A horror -- well, more of a horror.

The first bomb was for the war. The second bomb was by way of justice. God deals with humanity through its nations. Citizens benefit or suffer because of the policies, the wisdom or folly of its leaders. Luck of the draw. Do the innocent suffer? Contend over the matter with Adam. Then look in the mirror. There's no such thing as justice, and precious little righteousness. Our best is far less than perfection.

This is my position, refined by the fires of time. I could not ... or rather, would not have written this poem, today. A haiku must use delicate and natural imagery, and the irony of such usage given this theme seems inappropriate to me, now. Inconsistent? I'm not always sarcastic.

For dramas that play out upon the great stage of world events, we must understand that the author is God. The Holocaust really was that: a religious conflagration to a god, or perhaps to God. Nuclear bombs must be on that same scale. They alter the script -- which is, technically, impossible, given the guiding hand of Omnipotent Providence. No. They are part of the plot. We are not puppets, but we are players. We can and do flub lines, but the play goes on. Our responsibility is to conscience and integrity. But our obligation is to God.

Again, again I come back to the theme of conciliation. Given an ego that would rule creation, we have so little real power. Nations that do not resolve this conflict internally, must lash out as a plague upon the world. We, as individuals, are mostly victims, sometimes victimizers, and hardly ever heroes or saints. We must be reconciled to this imbalance. Because we live in a fallen world, groaning, groaning under the burden not of its pain, but its frustration. It would be perfect, the way a shark would be perfect. So long as we identify with such a creation, we are its creatures. But it is not the world with which we should be reconciled. No. Not the world.



World Peace Religion said...


Jack H said...

Heavy water.