Two Days of Terror, Seventy Years of Hope

This is the time of year when I tend to meditate on two dates: August 6, and August 9, 1945.  August 6 represents the beginning of the age of atomic warfare– the day that a plutonium bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. August 9, 1945, currently represents the end of the age of atomic warfare– the day that a uranium bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

The Hiroshima bomb was nicknamed Little Boy. US President Harry Truman  hoped the bombings would end World War 2 without an invasion  of Japan. The decision is still very controversial. Since that time, the world has teetered on the brink of nuclear war a number of times. There were plans to use atomic bombs in Korea. Many still alive remember the Cuban missile crisis, when the world again stood at the brink. For a period of more than forty years, thousands of nuclear devices were exploded in atmospheric and underground tests. Bombs have been developed that were a thousand times stronger than the bombs used in 1945, and hundreds of those were stockpiled. But never again has a nuclear device been used as a weapon of war.  Seventy years, and counting.

It’s so easy to get lost in worries about bad things, large and small, that beset us. I have bills to pay and no hope of a better job. I live in a world where the mounting problems of climate change are daily news.  One could make an endless list.  What’s worse, research shows that if a person is depressed, it’s harder to recall positive memories. One might summarize a whole body of research on human happiness by saying, happiness takes work. But it’s work that’s well worth it.

Recently we passed another anniversary of note– the 50th anniversary of Medi-Care/Medic-Aid, the “socialized medicine” program that Ronald Reagan said would destroy American freedoms. Not only has it been a great boon to millions, it was also a tool for desegregation of everything from waiting rooms to the blood supply. That people would be so racist as to not want their lives saved by blood for the wrong kind of person seems medieval today, but it was only fifty years ago. So much good has been done, and so much progress has been made. And great wrongs and great terror and suffering has been avoided.

None of these things “just happened.” They were result of a great deal of work; work that on a day-to-day basis must have sometimes seemed either hopeless , fruitless, or both to the people working at the time. But they kept working. And here we are. So if you are working for what you know is a good cause– keep working. Keep hoping. Because the alternative is not unimaginable; it’s all too imaginable.

Hiroshima bombed

To see before and after scenes from Hiroshima, go to

Africa is front and center in this image of Earth taken by a NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) sat.

So far, the only planet in the universe known to be habitable by life as we know it. Photo courtesy of NASA


About jamesmatter

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in private practice in San Francisco. I work with adults, adolescents, and couples, with focus on substance use and abuse and co-occurring disorders (having both a mental illness and an addiction).
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