Healing Wounds, Honouring the Past

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”

Judith Lewis Herman

Not only is Nanjing famous as one of the four ancient capitals of China, in modern times it was infamous as a masscre site. I took the opportunity to visit the Nanjing Massacre memorial museum in order to understand this tragic event.

In Australia we have many memorials which honour the nation’s participation in wars around the globe. But this was the first museum of its kind I had ever visited. It is a beautifully constructed space in which the lives of over 300,000 Nanjing residents who were brutally raped, tortured and murdered by Japanese soldiers in 1937, are symbolically expressed as stars in the sky and books in a great library. It is a genocide museum.

When genocide is committed, it must be seen. People must look at it with open eyes, not minimize its impact.

Elie Weisel

This was not army against army, trained soldier of one nation against that of another in a traditional war, but targeted and systematic destruction of the city of Nanjing and each of its residents of every age and background.

The Rape of Nanking did not penetrate the world consciousness in the same manner as the Holocaust or Hiroshima because the victims themselves had remained silent.

Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking

I won’t go into the details of what took place, if you’re interested you can check it out yourself. Instead, Ive been pondering how you heal collectively and individually from such a tragedy

“Remember the past but not with hatred”

A massacre survivor

Acknowledging the truth, the existence of the event is important;without that healing can’t occur. Yet even today its possible to come across some Japanese individuals attempting to minimise the event.

When I came across some Aussies in Beijing, they didn’t understand why young Chinese remembered Nanjing– and yet our politicians have consistently encouraged our young people to remember and celebrate Anzac day, a national holiday of remembrance of those Aussies and Kiwis who fought in all wars over the past century.

The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.” – Caroline Myss

Remembrance is the first important step in healing, there are so many more after the first.

“Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” – Buddha