Before 9/11: 8/6 and 8/9

by John K. Stoner (July 20, 2015)

My pain is worse than your pain.

You have heard it--probably not in so many words, but in many other words and ways.

We're complainers by nature--to that we add a layer of victim talk and soon we've made a case not only for your pity, but also why we should do something to fight back against someone, to make this right--well, yes, and get some revenge.

It's an interpersonal dynamic we are all familiar with. But not only individuals; nations as well behave this way. Especially nations.

"Never Forget." "We Remember." Bumper sticker politics and policy. The cars of America have fairly bloomed with such messages since 9/11/01.

But in all of this something has indeed been forgotten. Americans have forgotten 8/6 and 8/9. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945. .

"But that's comparing apples and oranges," you say. "This was terrorism, that was war." Well, to be sure, what's terrorism to me is war to you, and vice versa.

Apples and oranges--there are differences worth noting .  Actually, that's what I want to draw to your attention.

In the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings the death toll was in the range of 130,000-225,000. In the 9/11 bombing the death toll was 3,000.

In homicidal consequences, that would be comparing watermelons and grapes.

The empire will indeed publicize the wounds it suffers more than the atrocities it inflicts. But the repetition of a lie does not make it true.

Jesus spoke to this--he put it in terms of noting the log in your own eye when you are inclined to retell once again the story of the dust bit in your neighbor's eye.

This year on August 6, and again on August 9, Americans--well, let's start with American Christians--would do well to remember their history of dropping not one, but two, atomic bombs on civilian populations.

IF NOT EMPIRE, WHAT? is a candid look at the Bible's compromises with and critiques of empire over a period of more than a thousand years. In the year 2015 it would be good if all versions of Christianity looked again at their book to see what it says about the imperial dream of running the world with overwhelming homicidal power.