Disaster survivors implore students to pursue peace
Through portrayals of the horror that followed the loss of innocent life, two speakers at a "Survivors Speak" presentation last night formed a haunting picture of the consequences of violent action.
At the speech, listeners heard pleas for an end to war, an abolition of nuclear weapons and the increased use of non-violent means to seek justice.
Seiko Ikeda, speaking with the help of a translator, cited her first-hand experience of the horrors of Hiroshima during World War Two as reason for advocating an end to war.
Andrew Rice, brother of a victim of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, demanded that individuals take a more critical view of violent action that results in harm to innocent victims.
Ikeda, who was located 1.5 kilometers from where the bomb was dropped at Hiroshima during the American attack in 1945, gave a chilling recollection of her experiences. Not only did the bomb cause mass destruction, but it also deprived people of their humanity, she said. The pleas of victims around her for water, relief from pain, paralleled her pleas for an end to war and the prevalence of nuclear weapons.
Ikeda said that she and other survivors of Hiroshima "know the horrors of war," unlike many others. "There are no winners and no losers in any war," she said, adding that war brings only "sorrows, agony, worry, sadness and anger."
She related how a survivor like herself wrestles with remembrances of pleas for help from the wounded at Hiroshima -- physical torment turned into mental distress at the recognition that one's physical and emotional identity was forever changed by war.
Following Ikeda's presentation, Rice urged individuals to adopt a critical view toward the use of violent action, citing an understanding of the extensive impact of harm to innocent people that generally follows a violent pursuit of justice.
Means other than war must be sought to combat the terrorists and the threats posed by the Iraqi regime, he said. Rice also called for an open dialogue about the motivation for threatening actions, such that a reasonable solution to the problem may be found.
"Pure force has never worked," Rice said. When no other means are probable, force may be justified, he added, noting that other methods have not been exhausted in relations with Iraq and the terrorists at large.
Rice demanded that individuals view the "indirect effect" of warfare -- the damage to innocent civilians and the suffering caused to those around these victims. His knowledge of innocent Afghans killed in the U.S. response to Sept. 11 made "an already difficult experience all the more depressing."
Since last year's tragic attacks, he has worked with the families of terrorism victims to send funding to Afghan families harmed by recent U.S. attacks. Rice also has worked with an organization called Peaceful Tomorrows, made up largely of Sept. 11 victims who seek alternatives to war.
Rice encouraged individuals to support the cause of finding alternatives to violence in seeking justice, and to be especially critical of the U.S. campaign for war in Iraq and the war on terrorism.
Critique is one of the most important aspects of a democracy, he said, expressing frustration that criticism of the war now elicits connotations of anti-Americanism or a lack of patriotism.
Rice said that he considered college students to be among the most empowered individuals in combating the repression of criticism. He urged students to stand against the governmental and societal pressures that undermine the most important aspects of democracy.