Monday, February 09, 2015

Swords Into Ploughshares

Sitting next to where I sleep is a small statue depicting a verse from Isaiah that my father gave to me at Christmastime.
And they will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war. HERE
Fashioned out of recycled material taken from decommissioned nuclear warheads, the statue not only depicts the breaking of a sword about to be turned into a ploughshare, but is itself an example of such a re-purposing: an instrument of war transformed into a message-giving piece of art.

Rising tensions in the Middle East are entangling more countries, most recently Japan with the release of videos depicting the killing of two Japanese citizens who were being held by ISIS.  While the murder of these two men (and so many countless others) is terrible and shocking, the reaction of Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe only served to increase the shock of so many peace-loving people in this nation: Abe vowed revenge* and then appeared to be using these killings as justification to continue his attempt to amend Japan's pacifist constitution. **

Yesterday, a Peace Rally was held to remember Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, the two men killed by ISIS, and it should be noted that it was a Peace Rally that took place and not a demonstration.  At the Peace Rally, a friend of the humanitarian and journalist Goto-san was quoted as saying: “I think the onus is on us all to keep his wishes for peace alive".***

ISIS uses killings as a weapon to draw more countries into the conflict.  By vowing revenge, Prime Minister Abe plays directly into the hands of ISIS succeeding only in further involving Japan in a war that it can never win.  But I believe that Goto-san would never have wanted that, that he would have asked for his own killing to be transformed into a renewed call for Peace.  And that is what the attendees at yesterday's Peace Rally have done: Swords into Ploughshares.

* "Departing From Japan’s Pacifism, Shinzo Abe Vows Revenge for Killings" by Martin Fackler (Feb 1, NYT) HERE

** "Abe Is Said to Have Plans to Revise Pacifist Charter" by Martin Fackler (Feb 5, NYT) HERE

*** "Goto, Yukawa mourned in spontaneous gatherings nationwide" by Yoshiaki Miura (Feb 9, Japan Times) HERE

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