I was fortunate to have an amazing experience today. That is one feature of my new role as an associate principal: I get to see the highlights of school life.
Our history teacher had arranged for a guest speaker today. Mrs Kondo, a 70-year-old survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945.
She was an 8 month old baby when the bomb hit, but the horror of that event followed her for years after. Through her childhood she felt intense anger towards those airmen who had dropped the bomb. As a young adult, her engagement to an American was broken off when the family realized she may have radiation. It was very new for me to learn that Hiroshima victims were discriminated against for this reason. Even local schools had segregated classrooms.
But Mrs Kondo’s story became even more remarkable when she recounted her meeting with one of the airmen. Bizarrely, they met at an episode of “This is your Life” featuring the airman. She stared at him across the room with intense hatred. But as she stared, she noticed tears running down his face. She realized that all of us have both good and evil in us. (Having seen the devastation, this airman was reputed to have said “My God, what have I done.”) Mrs Kondo’s hatred dissipated then and there.
So, I guess, part of her message is forgiveness: we all have good and evil in our selves. Let’s look for the good.
But the resounding message she gave to students was “The world is small. You can do something. Don’t let something like this happen again.”
Students need to feel powerful, and that they do have an impact, and they are obliged to ensure they impact the world compassionately.