HIROSHIMA DAY 2007

We made our annual pilgrimage to Canbury Gardens to remember the appalling holocaust which was the dropping of the first atom bomb on Hiroshima 62 years ago. 150,000 died immediately, some simply evaporated, and many thousands died afterward from injuries and radiation poisoning in the single most devastating man-made event in the history of the world. Radiation from it still circulates in the stratosphere. Words are inadequate for the devastation. The deaths were overwhelmingly civilians such as you or I, families, children, ordinary working people.

I feel strongly that to meet and remember the dead is insufficient. Before our eyes things are moving in exactly the wrong direction. There was a perverted rationale to the cold war nuclear arsenalsí build up with each side supposedly too afraid of the consequences to press the nuclear button and start an unwinnable war. Now, when the threat has receded politicians seem determined to disregard commitments to disarm; research on new weapons is in progress and Trident is to be renewed; and government policy is apparently to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. Nukes have been transformed from a supposed vital line of defence for our country and way of life to being a useable weapon to threaten developing nations. No longer defensive; itís now offensive. If keeping alive the memory of Hiroshima means anything it must be a part of the campaign to rid us of the nuclear threat. Make no mistake, nuclear weapons are not to attack armies; they are to eliminate cities and ordinary people such as ourselves. In the event of nuclear war we are the front line. There are 640million guns in the world and almost one person a minute is killed somewhere - ĺ of them civilians, mainly women and children; but this is nothing compared to what would happen in a nuclear war. Trident alone carries warheads with 200x8xHiroshima and approximately 75% of the British public recently declared their opposition to its renewal.

The nuclear bomb, like Hitler, WWI, carpet bombing of cities, and many other atrocities started out in someoneís mind as a good idea, and they persuaded others The Hiroshima bomb was likely thought the best thing since sliced bread. Campaigners against nuclear weapons need to persuade enough people of the sane alternative and confront the perverted thinking of nuclear supporters. The weapons are Ďsoldí as a protection when they really arenít, and surely our life and liberty can not be dependant upon being able to destroy the world Ė nor should we feel that it did. Sometimes the public are too easily led by politicians who whip us up into a fever pitch and make us fear an imaginary enemy bent on our destruction. The world is actually made up of ordinary people whose needs and inclinations are little different from ours. Machiavelli, in 1518, identified a problem of escalating aggression and hostility were two parties convinced themselves that the other posed a threat. We donít need to live in an atmosphere of fear, threat and hostility as the examples of the European Union and Northern Ireland demonstrate. Most of the world is perfectly content not to have nuclear weapons and doesnít feel deprived. The trick is to persuade GB incorporated we donít need them and can survive perfectly contentedly without them.We neither want to be victims nor want others to be.

After a short, very direct contribution from the deputy Mayor and two minutes silence we launched our flotillas of little lighted boats. The wind dropped, the sun set, and lights came on in widows opposite. The Thames was calm with gentle ripples which gently rocked the boats and reflected their lights and dancing candles. Gradually it became darker and more peaceful as the crowd dispersed; till August 2008. I reflected on the tranquillity of the Thames side and the contrast with Hiroshima 62 years ago; and wondered what my few words had achieved.

NTH 6 August 2007