Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pondering disasters - man-made and natural

Today is the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki which killed around 80,000 in the first day or two after detonation. The 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima was on Friday, and Little Boy killed 166,000 people there in the first two days alone.

Discussion continues recently of the best way to preserve and restore Auschwitz as a historical site so the Holocaust can never be forgotten or denied.

The current floods in Pakistan are affecting around 12 million people now, and although the known death toll is only around 1500 this is mainly because many bodies have yet to be found (and probably never will) and because the diseases and famine which will kill so many more have yet to strike.

I've been thinking about these items which have come up on the news in the last few days, and wondering how to expain them to my children - to all our children. The floods are the easy part - children seem to be born with a natural appreciation of the awe-inspiring power of nature. Nature is neither good nor bad, it just is. And natural disasters happen. Though it is hard to explain why we can't help more, why rescue workers can't get to people trapped in valleys by the flood waters.

But how to explain atomic bombs and the Holocaust? In fact, I think I'd find it easier to explain atomic bomsb than the Holocaust. Obviously, children need to know and need to know thoroughly about these things, to ensure they never happen again, but bloody hell, doesn't some of your innocence die when you discover mankind is capable of such things?


Shell said...

I know what you mean Liz - it's hard for me to comprehend the death toll for the atomic bombs let alone explaining it to a child!!! I have a couple of books on the holocaust that are quite graffic even though they are childrens books - horrible to read for me.

Becky said...

Yes, wouldn't it be wonderful if we weren't faced with the reality of what man can do to man, seemingly without a second thought.

I have no ideas of how to explain this. We recently visited an orthadox Jewish synagogue and that inspired the children to ask some questions which I answered honestly and didn't tell them more than they asked. They are 10 and 9, and pretty innocent and un-worldly so I wouldn't push them to know such horrors until they are ready iykwim.

I have also been thinking of natural disasters and conflict over the last couple of days.

Joxy said...

This is a part of history that I covered with my degree. So shocking and the photos, eye wittness accounts I read, the pilots who dropped hte bombs accounts etc it was all horrific.

It is so very important we do teach our children the horrors that mankind has done, it terrifies me how quickly people are forgetting these horrors - the ignorance of so many young people is staggering. I was appalled by a poll a while ago in which many young people had no idea who Churchill was!

I'm not quite sure how I'll go about bringing the modern history horrors to Rye, when he's older - I suppose reading and listenig to accounts of people who were there... and I remember a film we watched at school - it had me in tears..but gosh tat imagery has stayed with me, a powerful film, Auschwitz.

Anonymous said...

My goodness Liz you must be exhausted pondering all these disasters! And I really admire your integrity and committment to the world community.
But I hope it's not presumptuous of me to just say that there is much in the community that is not disaster, that is beautiful, that feeds our spirits and it helps us to look at those too. Even the smallest things; a tiny jewel wasp, a hug from our child and love. All still exists in the world alongside everything else. Hope you're mindful of that too and don't take everything on your shoulders!
Blessings. Ross