We must enforce the NPT and strengthen it.
"Nationalism and religion are the curse of our times when they divide us. We are all citizens of this planet."
Next to speak was a student from Nagasaki, Yuri, who spoke of the idea three years ago to collect ten thousand signatures from high school students in opposition to nuclear warfare. By last year, he and his colleagues had collected over ninety thousand signatures. He will address Kofi Annan in Switzerland as a peace messenger bearing these signatures (we were allowed to sign their petitions this evening), and as a third-generation descendant of a Nagasaki survivor. Not that he heard painful reminiscences within his own family--a cousin died of leukemia--but from other survivors.
Yuri became a peace activist in high school. He said that nuclear weaponry continues to multiply; today there are seventy-three thousand in the world, with Russia holding the most, followed by the United States.
"These weapons must never be used," he concluded. "We pledge to work for a peaceful world."
We floated candles onto the waters of the stilled fountain. Meant to fill the space, they remained on the periphery. I looked around at the Japanese and Americans chatting easily and wondered what my place was at that moment. I am on the steering committee after all and had supped with Mr. Sato, his translator, Bob Moore, and another board member. We had sushi and rice crackers. I had asked the interpreter what she thought of our version of Japanese food and she had said, "It's ok" dismissively.
And now? Wouldn't the right thing be to thank Mr. Sato for his amazing words? He had spoken to so many of us individually. I went up to him, began my formulaic greeting, and he took my hand and looked deeply into me. I thanked him for his very memorable words. I said I would tell everyone I knew what he said. Then I remembered how to say thank-you in Chinese. Wrong language. Then I remembered how to say it in Japanese. "Arigato," I smiled. He repeated the word. He really meant it. Suddenly I knew what to do next. I bowed the way I had seen the Japanese people bowing to each other this evening.
I limped away (I have a broken toe) into the darkness. I realized how much I had experienced with that handshake--the epicenter of Hiroshima sixty-one years ago. It was overwhelming. What he gave, a man who had lost everything.