Hey, hi, and hello. Welcome back to another post. Recently my class has been reading the book Hiroshima to aid in our learning of the Manhattan project, or as its more commonly known as the “Atomic Bomb.” This event cannot even be explained as tragic or devastating due to it being far worse than those words. Let’s jump right in.
When I was first told to write a literary criticism on Hiroshima many ideas flooded my head. Many thoughts and questions, “what do I write?” “Should I focus on one idea or many?” All of these thoughts and more, however one stood out to me. “What is my opinion?” I have many opinions on many things and they are constantly being changed. For example I used to think that contemporary art was not art until I went to a Yoko Ono exhibit. It only takes one thing to change someone’s mind. My opinion on this book and specifically different aspects of this book has changed over reading it.
Before reading this book I had thought that the Americans made a smart move to end the war. After reviewing this I realized that I was looking though one viewpoint, this book allowed me to see through another. In this book we read through the view of 6 survivors and their experience. This allows you to sympathize and remember that there are always two side to a story. At the end of this book I had one main question, “Can we blame the US for making the atomic bomb and not taking the time to test for long lasting effects if they were just trying to get there before the Germans did?” The US might have made a smart move in saving their own men by bombing the Japanese, however it was not ethically the right thing to do. Let’s look at this through the trolley problem.
“There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two (and only two) options:
Do nothing, in which case the trolley will kill the five people on the main track.
Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
Which is the more ethical option? Or, more simply: What is the right thing to do?”
Is it more ethical to end the war and save your men by bombing innocent Japanese civilian lives or to continue fighting and lose more lives? In the book, John Hersey wrote “Mrs. Nakamura and her relatives had been quite resigned and passive about the moral issue of the atomic bomb, but this rumour suddenly aroused them to more hatred and resentment of America than they had felt all through the war.” This showed that even a survivor of the event questioned the morality of the bomb.
After pondering my original question (Can we blame the US for making the atomic bomb and not taking the time to test for long lasting effects if they were just trying to get there before the Germans did?) I remembered a quote from my favourite musical (which happens to be Newtons Third Law), “Hamilton.” As Daveed Diggs (Thomas Jefferson) said “Every action has an equal opposite reaction.” There were clear consequences to the bomb being dropped wether the US decided to ignore them or just didn’t pick up on them.
In my opinion everything we do has equal consequences, the US might not have considered the consequences or the ethics if they felt a rush to get there first however they have learned their mistake and I hope that there will be more consideration in the future. This book has left behind an impact on the minds of many Americans and I hope that more historians and journalists consider writing in this method.
Stay tuned for my next post.