Too long to wait for peace

National Catholic Reporter staff, including Global Sisters Report, commemorated the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima with prayerful reflection and seven minutes of silence. Celebration Editor Pat Marrin folded 70 origami peace cranes for the occasion. (NCR photo / Toni Ann Ortiz)

Today, August 6, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and on Nagasaki on August 9.

It’s more than I can take in, really. The destruction, the willingness to drop the bombs on cities, the suffering, the aftermath, the continuing consequences. Mostly, it’s the enormity of knowing that we have the ability to destroy all life on this precious Earth, yet continue to stockpile these weapons, desire to possess them, develop and produce even more of them. Implicitly threatening to unleash them on our sisters and brothers.

So, I’m holding it all in prayer. Holding it along with the power of the transfiguration today. Joining those in Japan and others all over the world  in prayer, in hope for a world free of nuclear weapons. Rededicating ourselves to the work for peace, trusting in God’s transforming grace.

We remember the hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs, whose courage and commitment lead the way. There are only about 183,000 still living and their average age is now 80. Their experience, stories and inspiration must not be lost to future generations. Many of this year’s commemorations focus on telling their stories of both trauma and courage.

With the blessing of both timing and global sisterhood, Sister Filo Hirota, a native of Japan, visited us yesterday at Global Sisters Report/National Catholic Reporter. She is the international leader of the Mercedarian Sisters, a board member of the International Union of Superiors General and a member of Pax Christi International. Since it was already August 6 in Japan, we gathered for a time of prayerful commemoration, in silence. Then Sister Filo shared some statements from hibakusha. Her gracious presence connected us to them and to all who yearn for peace around the world.

And to all who work for peace around the world.

Commemorations also include actions for peace. This year offers both ongoing and unique opportunities.

The negotiated agreement with Iran is an historic step in the right direction, despite what all the inflammatory rhetoric may lead us to believe. I invite those of you here in the U.S. to join Pax Christi in contacting our elected representatives. They are home now on summer break and will be voting on the agreement in September when they return to Washington.

Although this spring’s Review Conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty made no headway toward disarmament, it may have been a turning point, as Tom Fox pointed out. There is a growing movement among nations calling for a legal ban on nuclear weapons. Presently, 113 nations have endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge.

We can join the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Global Zero or other organizations building the movement for a nuclear free world.

No matter where we live, we can urge our mayor to become a Mayor for Peace, another great way to spread the word.

As we commemorate these days, let us hold each other and our Earth in prayer. Let us pledge ourselves in service of peace. Seventy has been 70 years too long.

[Jan Cebula, OSF, is liaison to women religious in the United States for Global Sisters Report.]

Related: We forge a path of solidarity toward a nuclear-free world