Around this time every year, I have a hard time sleeping. I’ve been re-reading the Bells of Nagasaki and reflecting on the idea of nuclear warfare. The cost of nuclear arms goes beyond their immediate victims. I agree with Salvador Dali that those two bombs in Japan sent a “seismic shock through me.” It represents a new age in which Just War theory is slowly turning more and more obsolete. Can we truly have discussions about the principles of proportionality and distinction in a world where state-to-state warfare runs the possibility of ending our species?
I have always felt a special attachment to Nagasaki due to the story of Our Lady of Nagasaki, the bust of the Virgin Mary that survived the blast. Nagasaki had a significant Catholic population before the bombing, but it was mostly wiped out during the inferno. To this day, Urakami Cathedral is a rallying point for anti-nuclear activism in Japan and is the center focus of the classic book The Bells of Nagasaki. Regardless of what one thinks of religion, Catholicism, or marian veneration, it’s hard to ignore the imagery. Just as she wept for her Son on the cross, the mother of God weeps for the children of Nagasaki.