On August 9th, 72 years ago, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki – just three days after dropping one on the city of Hiroshima. It is estimated that over 150,000 people were killed over those three days.
Now we have a U.S. president vowing to meet threats from North Korea “with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
The people of Japan know such fire and fury. Together with millions of people around the world who know the devastation of war and love peace, we say “Never again!”
Photo: Maryknoll Father Gerry Hammond in North Korea. Read more in Maryknoll Magazine.
Pope Francis has said: “If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. … Peace will be lasting in the measure that we arm our children with the weapons of dialogue, that we teach them to fight the good fight of encounter and negotiation.”
Just one week ago, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a briefing with the press, “We are trying to convey to the North Koreans: ‘We are not your enemy, we are not your threat.’” Tillerson added that the United States hopes that “at some point,” North Korea will understand and sit down for a dialogue.
The time for dialogue is now.
Siegfried S. Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who has visited North Korea and toured its nuclear facilities, agrees. “There is an urgent reason to talk to Pyongyang now: to avoid a nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” Hecker said in an interview with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on August 7. He explained: “The greatest North Korean threat we face is not from a nuclear-tipped missile hitting the U.S. mainland, but from Washington stumbling into an inadvertent nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.”
War and belligerent threats are not the answer to the political tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. There are 11 million people on the Korean peninsula who will immediately suffer death and injury if our leaders do not allow for dialogue and compromise.
“The most fearful thing in this world is apathy. We have a responsibility to love the North Korean people unconditionally,” says Maryknoll Father Gerry Hammond, who lives in South Korea and visits North Korea every few months to bring life-saving medicines to tuberculosis patients there. Just as Pope Francis said in his World Day of Peace message this past January, we know that “violence is not the cure for our broken world.”
Read more about the issue in “Korea: Moving from crisis to peace” by Columban Father Pat Cunningham in the May-June 2017 issue of NewsNotes.
Download a PDF version of the prayer for printing.