By Dan Shiner
Some years ago, Paul Tibbets invited Mitsuo Fuchida for a visit.
They had met briefly many years earlier. It took some time to arrange—after all, Tibbets lived in Ohio, and Fuchida in Japan, and both men were well into middle age.
Eventually, Fuchida traveled to Columbus, where he spent two weeks at Tibbets’ house. By all accounts, the men very much enjoyed their time together.
Though neither man was given to emotion, both spoke warmly about the other during and after their visit.
We live in a time where it is almost a badge of honor not to get along with people. We divide ourselves along political lines, racial lines, economic lines, religious lines. We have become increasingly tribal. We see anyone who is not like us as “the other.” “They” are no longer different. “They” are wrong.
We no longer talk to each other. Instead, we disparage each other, in public forums—in letters to the editor, at meetings, among our friends and those who agree with us. We dehumanize those with whom we disagree, and I am just as guilty as anyone.
We wonder if our country will withstand the stress. We all know exactly who to blame. Each other. And when I am in despair that we will ever be able to heal our wounds, I think about Tibbets and Fuchida, spending two weeks enjoying each other’s company: Fuchida, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor and Tibbets, who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
If they can get along, certainly we can.
Dan Shiner lives in Mill Valley.
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