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Luke Taicher

Mr. Padgett
English 101
A World of Hidden Evil
90,000 dead, a city once prosperous in absolute desolation. The effects the atomic bomb
had on Japan as well as the rest of the world were sinister. Throughout the history of our
existence there have been many examples of good and evil. It is easy to remember and celebrate
all the good that has happened. It is even easier to look past and forget all the bad and evil that
has gone on throughout our history. John Berger analyzes this hidden evil in his essay Hiroshima.
He believes as a society, we tend to look past the evils that have occurred and try to justify and
defend them. He chose to look at the devastating events that took place in Hiroshima, when the
United States dropped an atomic bomb. There are plenty of times throughout history where this
evil rises from the shadows and comes out. We see this in the Holocaust, World War I, and today
with the terrorists organizations in the Middle East. The article Hiroshima is ultimately about the
evil in the world that people look past, the tragedy of the events at Hiroshima, and whether
dropping an atomic bomb and killing thousands is justifiable and an purely evil act.
There is so much bad in the world, some believe it is just easier to ignore it and throw it
in the back of our mind where it will never be accessed. The author goes into great detail about
this issue. He provides the audience with survivors stories to make the audience aware of the
evil that occurred on that day. One of the examples the author uses to achieve this is a story about
a mother and daughter. I was walking along the Hihiyama Bridge about 3pm on 7th August. A
woman, who looked like an expectant mother, was dead. At her side, a girl of about three years
of age brought some water in an empty can she had found. She was trying to let her mother drink

from it, (Berger 132. All over the world we see people go on with their everyday lives, without
any acknowledgement of the evils and troubles that are occurring. This quote is evidence of the
horrors that many people arent aware of and dont do anything about. There are many different
factors that account for this though that the author did not go into. As a society we are
uneducated about a lot of these evils or innocent to the evils. Berger describes this, Evil from
time immemorial has often worn a mask innocence. One of evils principal modes of being is
looking beyond (with indifference) that which is before the eyes, (Berger 133). I am guilty of
this as well as countless other people. It is easy to try to justify and quickly look past it. The
people of Germany during the Holocaust, thought that what they were doing was okay and
looked past those suffering in what some may call hell. Some are not as fortunate to be able to
have proper education and in many cases this leads to them committing evil acts. In Africa with
child soldiers this occurs a lot unfortunately, they are told that what they are doing is good when
it obviously is not. The author realizes this and seems to be reaching out to the people with an
education who dont acknowledge these problems in the world. Another prime example of this is
what is going on with Isis, people tend to turn their heads and or not bother being educated about
what is going on. The terrorist attacks that have been executed by Isis raise a major concern, a lot
of these acts have killed hundreds of innocent people without many repercussions. When they are
informed many times people will maybe feel some sense of worry or care for a short period and
then return to their daily problems like picking up a kid from work. The author relates this to the
events of Hiroshima, which is another perfect example of people not engaging the evil.
The event that took place on August 6, 1945 made it one of the grimmest days on the
history of mankind. Berger describes the event as hell, the survivors are called in Japanese
hibaskuska, which means those who have seen hell, (Berger 130). The pictures Berger brings

up are to present the audience with an idea of how horrible it was. Berger wants the audience to
put aside their bias and sympathize with the survivors who went through hell and back. I think
this is a fair thing to do in this situation, though there are people that will have trouble doing so
like the veterans who fought against the Japanese. No matter where the viewer comes from,
America, Japan, and or Russia, Berger is concerned with raising awareness not just for the
Hiroshima survivors, but all the evil acts throughout history. He wants the world to know the
horrors that took place on that day. The long lasting effect it had on the Japanese people. He uses
the pictures to show devastation and to show the audience that these people were left with
nothing after the bombing. He wants his audience not to just look past the bombings and think
about the innocent people whose lives were taken and not just think it was the best thing to do.
Which I believe to be very important as many people are unaware of the horrors that have taken
place throughout history. After reading this, the Holocaust as well as some of the battles in WWI
came to mind as such cruel and evil events. Growing up half Jewish I have learned a lot of the
horrors and evils of the Holocaust, though many people have not and remain anti-sematic as still
some Americans have hatred toward Japan. August 6, 1945 was a tragic day with horrors that
still follow people today.
As an American it is easy to say that the United States were justified in their actions.
Berger argues that there is no justification for the events that took place. He compares this event
as terrorism, The two bombs dropped on Japan were terrorist attacks, (Berger 132). Though I
cannot completely agree with him entirely of this point. The deliberate meaning of absolute no
justification in this circumstance is unfair. The act of dropping the bomb may have been evil and
killed innocent, though at the same time the Japanese army showed relentless efforts of taking
over the world with Nazi Germany. For example the Japanese bombed an American naval base to

provoke war. There is evil on both sides and while it is still questionable whether this act was
justifiable, I do not believe that the Americans necessarily had a choice. The war was so evil in
itself and needed to put to an end. One of the messages Berger sets to accomplish is that every
justification comes back to the military, and political systems. The political and military
arguments have concerned such issues as deterrence, defense systems, relative strike parity,
tactical nuclear weapons and pathetically so called civic defense, (Berger 131). They make
their people believe it was okay to do this. Hitler did this with the Holocaust, the United States
with the atomic bomb, the Armenian government, and countless other acts. On this matter it is
easier to agree with because in the end it is the politicians that make these decisions and execute
the actions of these evils, though where it understandable to disagree with the author is that the
politicians and military are trying to protect their people. The issue of justification is difficult
because of bias, moral beliefs, and past experiences. Berger says this was an act of terrorism,
looking today at the terrorism in the Middle East, the viewer may not agree with the author. As
an act of terrorism is in fact targeting innocent people, innocent peoples lives were at risk had
the Americans not have dropped the bomb. The author is trying to argue that there is no
justification for the evil acts that occur, though viewers may believe differently, as this is a more
controversial subject matter.
This hidden evil that causes humans to act in extreme measures and often very cruel takes
away many of the good that occurs in the world. The author is ultimately trying to say that
people look past the evil, that the events in Hiroshima were a true testament of this evil, and that
there is no justification for this kind of evil. History unfortunately does repeat itself as we are
still seeing this evil in the world 20 years after the article was written. The importance of being
aware of this evil is something that may separate the good against the evil.

I really like what youre doing in this essay. Youre complicating the idea of personal
responsibility and perception of what evil is. Or at least youre elucidating what you think Berger
is saying. I really want to see these ideas of evil or what is evil (or morally right or wrong) more
in the forefront here. I say this because Im not getting a super clear sense of what your thesis is.
I like where you say whether people can justify the evil. I feel like you need to more clearer
define what you mean by evil. Also, would you consider the US bombing on Hiroshima
evil? Just some things to think about in revision. Again, I like the direction youre going in, I
just need a little more clarity on your thesis. Good work here.