By V. M. GOPAUL
In August 1945 an atomic bomb crushed Hiroshima, and the impact instantly incinerated 80,000 city inhabitants, leaving behind a crater of devastation. Sadako Sasaki was only two. Still alive after the explosion, she was two kilometers away.
She led a normal life until the age of 12 years. One day, after a vital relay race Sadako had helped her team win, she suffered from extreme tiredness and dizziness. The symptoms continued to recur until her parents took her to the Red Cross Hospital to find out what was happening to their daughter. She had leukemia, also known as “A-bomb disease.” Everyone who knew Sadako was in shock. She was terrified, knowing that almost everyone who got this disease faced certain death. She cried, cried, and cried. All she wanted was to go back to school. But she couldn’t; she had to stay in the hospital.
One day, her best friend, Chizuko, paid her a visit and brought some origami (folding paper). With tears rolling down her cheeks and holding Sadako’s hand, she explained a legend. According to tradition, the crane, a sacred bird in Japan, lived for a hundred years, and if a sick person folds one thousand paper cranes, then that person would soon get well. After hearing the legend, Sadako wiped away the tears and her face lit up with a faint smile, one she hadn’t mustered for days. With a nod, she determined to fold one thousand cranes in the hope that she would get well again.
Sadako’s family and friends worried so much that many of them sat beside her as encouragement for the sick girl to fold cranes. After the 500th crane, she felt so much better that the doctors allowed her to go home for a short while. Unfortunately, the tiredness and dizziness returned after only a few days, and she had to return to the hospital.
Despite the pain, she was determined to finish folding one thousand cranes. Sadako cheerfully folded origami into cranes daily. With each passing day, the task became more difficult. Her energy diminished until, one day, she went to sleep and did not wake up again. She had folded 644 paper cranes.
Her family and classmates were heartbroken about their loss. They decided to form a club to honor her courage. Word spread fast. Students from 3,100 schools and nine different countries raised funds. On May 5, 1958, almost three years after Sadako’s passing, a great monument, known as the Children’s Peace Monument, was built at the Hiroshima Peace Park, exactly at the spot where the horrendous atomic bomb had dropped.
Among those attending the ceremony were many of the children who helped Sadako during her ordeal at the hospital and who raised money to immortalize the spirit of a brave girl who’d succumbed to illness caused by nuclear fallout. The front of the monument was inscribed with the words “A Thousand Paper Cranes,” and the words “Peace on Earth and in Heaven” were engraved on the back.
To this day, children from all over the world still send folded paper to be placed beneath Sadako’s statue with a wish: “This is our cry; this is our prayer: Peace in the world.”
Upon hearing Sadako’s story, I was touched by her unfortunate situation and her desire to live a full life. It reminded me how millions of children like her are subjected to misery in Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and many other parts of the world. A facet of the oneness of humanity is to have empathy and compassion towards those members of the human family who are facing difficulty even though we may never see them. I believe billions of people, based on my research on philanthropic deeds, share my sentiments.
In memory of Sadako and millions like her, I decided to write one thousand blogs to promote peace, harmony, and prosperity on Earth. Given that I can only write twenty-five pieces a year, it will take me forty years to accomplish this goal. At seventy, I have another ten years of writing capacity left in me. If you do the math, I don’t have enough productive years left in me. I am asking for your help. I invite you to write blogs related to oneness and please submit them to the Facebook group called Oneness Movement for Humanity.