Sunday, March 28, 2010

Understanding Horrors of War Together

Bishop Lee, the retired Bishop of Taegu, started a youth group in 2004 which he named with the four Chinese characters (如己愛人) that mean "Love Others Like You Love Yourself." Knowing that the youth are the future, the bishop had decided to work with them for peace in the world, following the example of Prof. Paul Takashi Nagai of Japan (1908-1951) who was a strong advocate of loving others as ourselves, a belief he put into practice during the aftermath of the atomic explosions.

When the atomic bomb exploded in Nagasaki, Dr. Nagai was at the medical college where he worked as a radiologist. He saw the destruction and the deaths of his students and his wife. Working among the rubble, Dr. Nagai began a relief effort, putting to use his knowledge of radiation sickness to help the injured, but his efforts to provide healing were not restricted to medical care. He built a hut on the site where his house had stood and spent the rest of his life there praying, writing, meeting with visitors and working for peace. Many in Japan consider him a saint.

The bishop is sponsoring a contest that will select the best book reviews of one of two books by Dr. Nagai. Those who are selected will get a 4-day trip to Nagasaki to visit with other Japanese youths and spend time visiting the museum and being on piligrimage. One of the books selected was the "Bells of Nagasaki," which is the most popular of his books and gives a vivid picture of the destruction of the city and the relief efforts immediately after the explosion.

The bishop hopes that this will help conscientize the young people to the horrors of war, and enable many to actively take part in on-going efforts to make Dr. Nagai's example of love for others a reality for all.

A by-product of this joint exchange between the youth of Korea and Japan should be a greater understanding of each other, overcoming some of the results of a long history of animosity between the two countries.

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