Do you remember that feeling that you had the first time your parents said something that was incorrect? Now I’m not talking about Santa Clause not being real or any other fairy tales. But as you grow up and ask questions to learn more about the world perhaps your parents said something that was inaccurate. Sometimes they give you that answer intentionally and other times perhaps by accident. However, there is this moment of realization and doubt that perhaps they don’t know everything. Then you start school and learn more about the world: the math, the science, the history, etc. Did you ever stop to wonder if what you were learning was correct?
Since I’ve been in Japan, I have been doing a lot of thinking of well… how I’m thinking. I’ve wondering a lot about any influences upon my education that has impacted my beliefs today. This all may seem very abstract so let me give a clear example.
When I first started learning about World War II and the atomic bomb, similar to many Americans I was taught that the atomic bomb was a sort of “weapon of peace”, “saved many lives that would have been lost”, and “would end all wars”. Well now it’s more than evident that it would not end all wars, but how much more of the history behind America’s actions was less than true? As there are two sides to every story, I’ve been studying more and more the Japanese side of those last months of the war while I am in Hiroshima. Furthermore, I’ve been discussing and learning about the international perspectives of America’s actions in history. What other things were perhaps not as true as my American classroom led me to believe? Many things in our history books were justified because they said so. Now everyday in many not so easy conversations, I get a churning feeling of doubt in my stomach, especially when asked “Well what do you believe?”
What do I believe? That’s a loaded question. Do you believe everything you hear or read, even in a textbook? The bottom line is that some things don’t have a single answer. Sometimes neither side of the argument is correct and that has been the strongest truth so far that I have been able to come to terms with.