Tim Tan Huynh

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

6 Aug 2020 — On this day 75 years ago, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, another one was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. The end of the Second World War followed.

I don’t want to write too much about the infamous tandem of atomic bombings because I don’t want to think about them too much. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. I believe that the bombings are justifiable, but it’s important to appreciate the gravity of humanity developing the capacity to irreversibly destroy itself. Watching PBS Eons on YouTube has made me realize that we could be rendered extinct by natural phenomena.

Nuclear warfare is something that would have the same effect, and it would be entirely our fault. Reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy has given me an idea of how bleak and desolate the world would be following one or more nuclear blasts, even though McCarthy hasn’t confirmed the cause of the story’s post-apocalyptic setting. I’m old enough to remember the tail end of the Cold War era, but I’ve never sensed any real fear of nuclear Armageddon.

This fear has been well represented in pop-culture fiction of the 80s and 90s, but since the September 11 attacks, the setting du jour has been the zombie Apocalypse. I think that zombie outbreaks in movies, shows, and games of the past 15 or so years are stand-ins for Islamic terrorism in real-life, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a real outbreak can threaten the world.

Even before this year, I’ve always believed that a highly contagious and lethal disease is most likely to destroy humanity as we know it. Despite posturing from political leaders, I can’t envision any country using a nuclear weapon against people ever again. I can’t envision a Tom Clancy scenario happening in real-life, either. Nuclear weapons might not be prominent in our collective fears, but they should be prominent in our cultural record.

I remember having to watch Fat Man and Little Boy for a physics class in high school. This type of teaching and learning should take place regularly and not just landmark anniversaries.