Friday, February 13, 2015

Four years difference really matter : when you're four and eight

On August 15th 1945, the two children (ages four and eight) of a young American serviceman in the Pacific preparing to invade Japan probably responded quite differently from the united way their two grandmothers (aged 59 and 63) reacted to the news that the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had caused the Japanese to sue for peace.

The two grandmothers were both united in giving comparatively little thought to all the grandmothers and grandchildren killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki , so glad were they that their son/son-in-law wasn't going to be killed during the Allied invasion effort.

The eight year old child agreed - very glad that Daddy wasn't going to die overseas and would be coming home soon unharmed.

But the four year old child probably hadn't even been told that Daddy was facing imminent death overseas or that two bombs that killed thousands of children would now bring Daddy home safe.

This child's reaction was no reaction.

Because when you are very young, even only being four years apart in age makes a huge difference - though four years difference means nothing when you are two grandparents nearing retirement.

Flash forward to the Spring of 1956 and the news that deadly nuclear fallout from an American Bravo Castle Test of an hydrogen bomb had gone around the world in the atmosphere strong enough to kill a Japanese fisherman thousands of miles from the test site.

The grandmothers are now in their seventies and the eight year old is now 19 and drafted into the Army.

Their fear over American nuclear fallout worries and their regret for the loss of a human life is undoubtedly tempered by the thought that the American A-Bombs had saved thousands of American lives and that the wartime Japanese had been particularly cruel to other ethnicities on many well documented occasions.

By contrast, the four year old is now 15 and this child is distinctly uncomfortable with possible death or genetic damage from fallout radiation - possibly because of her viewing of many youth-oriented movies on the subject.

The child knows - from schoolbooks - that the A-Bombs killed hundreds of thousands but also shortened the war , saving the lives of starving millions in Japan and in her overseas occupied territories, as well as tens of thousands of American servicemen.

But that child doesn't feel it - in her bones - as her older brother does.

She, being four, wasn't literally there, at the time on the dropping of the Bomb.

In body yes - but not in heart, mind and soul.

Four years difference among the young  really matter --- this is the starting thesis of this blog.

My postwar transitional generation, by definition a little too young to remember WWII first hand, only learned of WWII (and how supposedly Big Science won the war) second hand,  learned it in the mind but not experienced it in the heart.

During its key plastic formative years, my generation held both this second hand kernel of support for prewar modernity's Big Science and first hand support for the beginnings of post-modern/postwar human rights protests of the Sixties.

The key characteristic of this transitional generation was not Sixties street conflict but internal mental conflict - knowing both modernity and postmodernity but not being totally in either camp, unlike their parents or children...

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