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Friday, Dec. 15, 2000

BILINGUAL

Hopes of peace rise with dawn of the 21st century


By TOSHIMI HORIUCHI

On the last day of the 20th century, the world seemed to resonate with the mournful aftermath of tragedies perpetrated across the globe during the previous 100 years. It appeared necessary to pin one's hopes on the dawn of the new century in order to dissipate the tones of violence and death still lingering in the darkness; to welcome the light of peace upon humankind and all the earth.

The 20th century had witnessed tears of fathomless sorrow and pain on the faces of the despised and the alienated. Figuratively speaking, these poor people were forced to swim in an ocean of terror to save themselves from sinking altogether.

Yet, many did not abandon their belief that brighter days were on the horizon.

This belief inspired people everywhere to seek out the light of peace which alone can make life worth living. It has been difficult, however, and heavy shadows still cover the world.

It is now 4 o'clock on the first morning of 2001. Satoshi knows he has only two more hours to contemplate his past and peer into the future before the first day of the 21st century dawns.

He considers that "a good beginning makes for a good ending" and opens the window. The glittering Morning Star greets him. Satoshi gazes hard and long at the star. Suddenly, he seems to hear it speak to him in the voice of light itself:

To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace. To remember the pastis to commit oneself to the future.

The voice arouses Satoshi's memory of Hiroshima, one of the most horrifying holocausts of the 20th century.

He regards the Morning Star and responds quietly: "Since Aug. 6, 1945, sharp-pointed pieces of the black-broken sun have continued to pierce the marrow of human bones. Hiroshima awaits your light to strike the earth with peace."

Was it his imagination? Satoshi sees the star shine more brightly in the eastern sky. He hears it speak again:

Let the sun bloom in the gloomy soul. Let the flowers sleep in the moon's embrace.

Satoshi ruminates over these words and surveys the star more intently.

He perceives yet another voice from out of the heavens:

People of the 20th century ex-perienced Hiroshima boiling in anguish with enormous power of light and heat. But, as time passes, the cry of Hiroshima's soul grows faint until today it has almost faded into the mist of memory. But Hiroshima still exists. it is known by new names: ethnic cleansing, genocide, mass destruction, hate. People of the 21st century, pay heed! there can be no more Hiroshi-mas!

Satoshi ponders these words. They strike him as similar to the words of American poet Robert Lowell in his poem, "For the Union Dead": "On Boylston Street, a commercial photograph shows Hiroshima boiling. . ."

Satoshi's thought intensifies. "Some people's minds have pushed and are pushing themselves to create a hell on earth not unlike the 'boiling' of Hiroshima," he grieves. "Plows of madness still cultivate insanity and cruelty. Claws of hate still rip the flowering, fragrant mead. Sharpened swords plunge bird song into silence."

Then, in the silence and stillness just before the first sun of the new century, Satoshi prays to the Supreme Being with folded hands:

For the world to breathe authentic sunshine and bathe in authentic moonlight, help us end disfigurement of the earth and skies, frozen blood and tears. Help us return to matters of the heart.

Beholding the first light of 2001, Satoshi assures himself: "Prayer is a cry of hope. Just as the sun rises anew, so my hope for the world revives."

Toshimi Horiuchi is the author of many books including "Minnesota Songs," "Journey to the Fire Flower" and "Synesthesia in Haiku and Other Essays." His essays that appeared on this page have recently been translated into Japanese and compiled into a book, titled "Atarashii Fuga no Sekai (A New Poetic World to Create a Cozy Home for the Soul)," from Liber Press, Tokyo.


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