By Jim Hannah
The novel COVID-19 virus resulted in a novel Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance by PeaceWorks-KC. The annual peace event took place for the first time not outdoors but online.
Forty-seven Zoom participants signed onto the hour-long commemoration, emceed by Sunny Hamrick.
Ann Suellentrop introduced two video clips, the first featuring a Nobel Peace Prize lecture by Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing who described the harrowing details of that day and her commitment to “never again.”
In the second video, Jay Coghlan of NukeWatch New Mexico detailed the far-flung enterprise of US nuclear weapons production and its growing existential threat. Of particular concern to PeaceWorks-KC listeners was Jay’s disclosure that in the last decade, funding for nuclear weapons component production in Kansas City doubled, with an additional 50 percent growth projected in the near term for the new KC National Security Campus. Meanwhile, the federal 2021 budget calls for a 17% cut in cleanup across the country of “the Cold War mess” of contaminants that KC’s old Bannister Federal Complex was part of. Ann responded to Jay’s presentation with a plea for involvement in “Back from the Brink” (www.preventnuclearwar.org).
Several practices of peace were brought to the group by Victor Dougherty of the Temple Buddhist Center at Unity Temple on the Plaza. In addition to sounding a gong commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Victor led the group in a loving-kindness (metta) meditation seeking—on behalf of one’s self, a friend, a difficult person in one’s life, and the entire world—these four blessings:
May I/you be filled with loving-kindness.
May I/you be safe from inner and outer danger.
May I/you be well in mind and body.
May I/you be at peace and happy.
Victor shared the Buddhist understanding, “As long as there is war within, there will be war without.” Then 14 breakout groups were formed for participants to listen to each other’s hearts as they explored the question, “Where do you notice separation in your life?”
As the evening drew to a close, Bennette Dibben welcomed participants in The Ribbon International project to display their artwork depicting what they “can’t bear to think of as lost from a nuclear war or natural disaster.” (See www.theribboninternational.org.)
Victor then closed out the meeting with a chant, accompanied by guitar, inviting each to look into the online faces and feel the kindness and goodness in each heart—the beginning of true peace.
—Jim Hannah belongs to the PeaceWorks-KC Communications Team.