The sheer power humans possess is incredible; our ability to think, learn, communicate, and control our environment sets us apart. The amount of advancements that have been accomplished to push the human race forward is near impossible to believe, but with great power, comes great responsibility, and it only takes one to use that power for evil, and the world is changed.
The Manhattan Project is one of those moments, a time in history where the world was changed. However, the question of whether that change is good or bad, is a question difficult to answer. This thought had been running through my mind during the course of this project, and it started with the driving question: “how did the splitting of the atom change the world?” Change is a word that comes up a lot, but it’s a word that I still struggle to understand the full meaning of. Merriam-Webster will tell you change means “to make or become different,” yet it’s rare to use the word at face value and instead there is always reasoning behind it. Going back to the idea of something being good or bad will always raise a talking point; as I made clear 10 months ago when discussing the Ology of Apology, people will always have their own opinion and it’s tough to change it, but after learning about Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” it’s your paradigm which forms that opinion and makes the decision for you.
The journey of understanding what really happened on August 6th and 9th, 1945 began straight in the deep end. I consider myself the type of person who doesn’t feel much emotion, but watching and hearing stories of the tragedies that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had an affect on me that I rarely feel. I was in true disbelief of the amount of harm one decision can cause and it planted a question in my head that I know others were thinking; why? The splitting of the atom was a turning point in history, December of 1938, Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch discovered fission, but what came as a result of that discovery is what makes this event historically significant. A discovery of such magnitude with the ability to do so much good for this world, you would think would be a benefit, but it only proved to be a devil in disguise. Space exploration, clean energy, medical treatments are all a product of nuclear fission, but the first thought that came to mind was a bomb, I think that tells us enough about ourselves. I understand that the world was in a rough spot when this discovery was invented, so all that everyone wanted was the war to be over, and I guess an atomic bomb was the way to do that. Despite understanding that side of the argument, it’s still a hard pill for me to swallow as I know what consequences came and the effect it had on the world.
Learning about the Manhattan Project through the United States’ perspective was one thing, but reading John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” was completely different. Usually we look at things through the winner’s perspective, but the problem with that is it only tells a single story and alters our view on the event. I’ve said many a time reading isn’t my cup of tea, but the novel “Hiroshima” sat differently with me. The ability to connect with these heart-shattering stories told by real people is what had me intrigued and pushed my curiosity. I was able to truly understand what one event can do to someone and left me with thoughts that wouldn’t escape my mind. Combing the two sides of the story pieced together my view on the event, I was able to understand that both sides would see themselves in the right, and that’s what makes war so difficult to understand.
With my new found opinions on the Manhattan Project I was proud to say that I could think for myself. In my learning plan I stated following through with my ideas is a place for growth, and I believe I did just that. The next step in this learning journey though, was to voice your own opinion, share a speech with my peers persuading them that the Manhattan Project is historically significant. In my eyes, this is where I went downhill, everything leading up to it was going well, until the final hurdle. By no means am I mad with myself, I’m just disappointed, disappointed because I know I could’ve done so much better. I set high expectations for myself, so when I don’t meet them, it’s a bit of a reality check. This is an opportunity for me to grow, recognize where I went wrong and what to do next time, in this situation, it was just a lack of preparation. Speeches are something new to me and I realized that a bit too late, I’ve done a fair amount of public speaking within PLP but those two only share a few similarities. Although my final speech didn’t necessarily go to plan, the work leading up to it was work that I can say I’m proud of, I just need to accept that it’s happened and now all I can focus on is whatever comes next.
The thoughts that came into my mind during this project will never leave, the question of why is a question I don’t think anyone can answer. At the end of the day, we’re all human and we’re always going to have human tendencies, but we can learn from our past to influence our future. August 6th, 1945 is a day we’ll never forget; the beginning of the end, but the end can be the beginning.