The pursuit of peace: A glimpse into living monuments dedicated to peace in the east and the west
Most of the time after violent man-made disaster strikes, that particular generation afflicted by it will learn that issues can always be resolved in other ways than violent means. And then, we lapsed into another hateful cycle, be it being driven by greed by constantly gaining advantages over the vulnerable or just being apathetic as one watches the world outside of his or her own bubble burns, unfeeling and uncaring of the fate of their fellow human brethren. We seemed to be prone of forgetting the horrors that the previous generation had endured and painful process of civilization reconstruction. The pursuit of peace in this generation has never been more important or viable now that the means to communicate messages of peace is made easier with the proliferation of the internet.
I am also grateful for all the monuments, facilities and museums that have been erected in the memory of man’s horrific moment so that people like me can have a glimpse to a world that has its peace forcibly stripped away. Through these introspective moments, my own resolve to pursue the path of conflict resolution via peaceful means is further galvanized. In this week’s entry will offer a glimpse to the two different, perhaps contrasting fundamental approach to peace building in the East and the West. For the East, I will focus on the Peace Park in Nagasaki and for the West, I will write about the Peace Palace at The Hague. The East starts this approach by internalizing grief, meditate on it, and from there gave birth to an entire community committed on this path. The West takes a more active role, works on arbitration and attempt to seek justice in a conflict. The development of different school of thoughts came later. I acknowledged that this is an overly simplistic observation, but I see the east tempered more by compassion, internal deliberation and the west is shaped by the need of taking active action, driven by justice.
When you step into the Peace Park, you’d notice a big statue in the middle.
The right hand points to sky, signifying the threat of nuclear weapons. The extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace. The folded right leg and extended left leg signify both meditation and the initiative to stand up and rescue the people of the world. The plaque reads
After experiencing that nightmarish war,
that blood-curdling carnage,
that unendurable horror,
Who could walk away without praying for peace?
This statue was created as a signpost in the struggle for global harmony.
Standing ten meters tall,
it conveys the profundity of knowledge and
the beauty of health and virility.
The right hand points to the atomic bomb,
the left hand points to peace,
and the face prays deeply for the victims of war.
Transcending the barriers of race
and evoking the qualities of Buddha and Go,
it is a symbol of the greatest determination
ever known in the history of Nagasaki
and the highest hope of all mankind
The statue on the left is from Netherlands, the plaque reads: "The statue shows a mother protecting her infant child from danger, representing that we must protect not only the present generation but also the coming generation as well so that the people of the world can live in peace together."
The statue on the right is from Italy, the plaque reads: "The statue, which depicts a mother holding her baby high in the air with both hands, is an expression of love and peace."
This is a picture of the hypocenter, where bomb dropped on that fateful day.
There is also another plaque next it to it that gave an account on happens on that day and it reads, At 11:02 A.M., August 9, 1945 an atomic bomb exploded 500 meters above this spot. The black stone monolith marks the hypocenter.
The fierce blast wind, heat rays reaching several thousand degrees and deadly radiation generated by the explosion crushed, burned, and killed everything in sight and reduced this entire area to a barren field of rubble.
About one-third of Nagasaki City was destroyed and 150,000 people killed or injured and it was said at the time that this area would be devoid of vegetation for 75 years. Now, the hypocenter remains as an international peace park and a symbol of the aspiration for world harmony.
This is a picture of the peace fountain.
The fountain is a prayer for the repose of the souls of the many atomic bomb victims who died searching for water. Carved on the plaque in front of the fountain, were lines from a poem by a girl named Sachiko Yamaguchi, who was nine at the time of the bombing. It reads: "I was thirsty beyond endurance. There was something oily on the surface of the water, but I wanted water so badly that I drank it just as it was."
Emerging from the chaotic aftermath was a community united by faith and inspired a bright light, Dr Takashi Nagai. His life story and his “Nyokodo” concept (literally means as yourself modelling after Christ’s commandment) marks him as a modern Job and it shows me that even in extreme pain devoid of meaning, there is still faith, hope and love to be found. I will not write in depth about his life because that would at least warrant a few entries but I will leave one of his sayings here. “Unless you have suffered and wept, you really don't understand what compassion is, nor can you give comfort to someone who is suffering. If you haven't cried, you can't dry another's eyes. Unless you've walked in darkness, you can't help wanderers find the way. Unless you've looked into the eyes of menacing death and felt its hot breath, you can't help another rise from the dead and taste anew the joy of being alive.”
The beauty of God’s creation is found in his life and his life became a gift to the city, help them to come to terms and to stand up once more. Unlike Hiroshima where there’s still deep seething anger at the events, you will only find peaceful understanding in Nagasaki. I think, this is where the people of God rediscover the gift of faith, hope and love. There is beauty and gratitude even in the horrors of war. Takashi Nagai’s journey and writings is a direct reflection of this. A raised fist in Hiroshima will pass down hatred where folded hands in Nagasaki are the beginning of reconciliation. Today, peace messages and flower offerings remains a visual reminder on beauty blossoming from horror.
Japan has unknowingly taken too much blogging time. I will just do a briefer overview of the Peace Palace at The Hague.
This is a picture of the peace palace.
And another picture at night.
The Peace Palace is more majestic because it is the seat of international law. It houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice. This is where conflicts are resolved when countries got into a fight, extremely important to prevent all out wars like the previous world wars. Some of the sessions are open to the public. (It can be very boring if you go in without understanding the case) If you want a tour of the place, advance reservation is extremely important. I was unlucky when I missed out a tour but my subsequent visits to The Hague have always been rather fruitful.
As you can see from the pictures, there are not much massive statues with symbolism like the peace park in Nagasaki. The funder, Andrew Carnegie was a much more practical man that wanted a functional building. Thanks to his vision and generosity, Arguments between nations can be resolved with a pen (most of the time) and not swords.
There is however, some neat addition to the park such as the multilingual words for peace etched in stones.
And I enjoyed this collection of rocks from every country in the world, it conveys a sense of solidarity of every citizen of the world and a reminder that the soil we step on is not that much different from each other after all.
An eternal peace has also been burning here since 1999.
To sum up today's entry, I think an integrated philosophy of both the east and west is necessary on the pursuit of peace. It is important to execute peace keeping mechanism and also retain a solid core of conviction to keep one’s resolve which achieved not only by books, but also meditations and internalizing the griefs of the past.
As spring is now in full bloom, next entry will have a lighter tone. Once again, the blog will go back to Nagasaki and attempt to wrap things up. Until next time.