by Roshi Joan Halifax: On the 76th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, Roshi Joan Halifax reflects on why we each must continue working toward the realization of nonviolence in our time…


At 8.15 AM Japanese time, on August 6th, 1945, a U.S. plane dropped a bomb named “Little Boy” over the center of the city of Hiroshima. Little Boy: A name that sounds so innocent, but the bomb it was named for wrought destruction, death, and suffering that is unimaginable.

Over the next two to four months, the atomic bombs dropped in Japan killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and between 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day.

You are the good news. The transformation of structures of violence to structures of peace comes about through you.

Some claim that these bombs were responsible for ending the war quickly and saving American and Japanese lives – an unfortunate theory created to justify horrific violence against innocent civilians. Others suggested that the weapons had to be tested as a matter of necessity.

Whatever the rationale, the dropping of weapons of mass destruction on these two Japanese cities ushered in a new era where the human inclination toward violence can now destroy the entire human race and make the earth uninhabitable for all but the most resilient of species.

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a destructive force of 12.5 kilotons. The missiles of today deliver bombs that have the power of 100 to 170 kilotons, with the potential of totally leveling everything within a 50-mile radius and wreaking utter destruction extending hundreds of miles, with wide-spread heat, firestorms and neutron and gamma rays that will kill, severely wound, and poison every living thing they envelope.

By any standard of proof, the use of these bombs constitutes genocide and terracide. As Philip Berrigan said, “Nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself.”