truths - the future matters,
nuclear weapons are evil
and life is a miracle
Nuclear Age Peace
We are at the beginning of a new century and
millennium. If there was ever a time for reflection, this
should be it. In the spirit of Ernest Hemingway, who said
that he always wrote about the truest things that he
knew, I would like to make three points that I believe
are true, obvious, and seriously under-appreciated.
First, the future matters. Life is not only for today.
We are linked to all that has preceded us and to all that
will follow. What we do today will affect the future. If
we live only for ourselves, we cut off possibilities for
the future. If we think only about ourselves, we will
undoubtedly shortchange the future.
If the future matters, we must live as though it
matters. We must live with concern for those who will
follow us on this Earth. We must be advocates for their
rights. We must not plant landmines of destruction that
will explode in the future.
We must live as if the future matters not only for our
children and grandchildren and for all generations to
follow us, but for ourselves as well. We have a
responsibility to the future &endash; I would say a
sacred responsibility &endash; to pass on a better world
than we inherited to the next generation or, at a
minimum, to pass the world on intact to the next
generation. It is not assured that we will do this. In
fact, unless we radically change our behavior, it is
almost assured that we will not do so.
Nuclear weapons are
an absolute evil
Second, nuclear weapons are an absolute evil. This is
the truest thing that can be said about them. It was said
by the president of the International Court of Justice
when the court gave its advisory opinion on the
illegality of nuclear weapons. These weapons are
instruments of mass destruction. Their effects cannot be
limited in time or space. The harm that they do goes on
long after the explosions of the weapons. They affect the
living and those yet to be born. They affect the genetic
structure of life. They have the potential to destroy
most of life on Earth, including the human species. These
instruments of genocide are also illegal under
international law because they cannot discriminate
between civilians and combatants and they cause
unnecessary suffering. The mere possession of nuclear
weapons affects our souls.
We cannot afford to leave decisions about the future
to our political leaders. They are not wise enough. The
system that puts them into positions of leadership is
corrupted by money and power. Concern for the future is
not the criteria of selection of our leaders.
To be silent in the face of evil is itself evil and
also cowardly. In our own historical reckoning, we hold
the Germans accountable for their silence in the face of
the Nazi evil. Yet, we are unwilling to examine our own
complicity with the evil of nuclear arms. This is an
affront to the future. How do you imagine those of the
future will judge us for our silence in the face of the
evil of nuclear weapons?
We need to change our policy with regard to nuclear
weapons. Rather than holding out the threat or use of
these weapons as a cornerstone of our security, we should
be leading the world toward their elimination. Anything
less than this is an abdication of our responsibility to
ourselves and to the future.
Life is a
Third, life is a miracle. Each of us is a miracle.
There is no other way to explain our existence. We don't
know where our lives come from or where we go when we
die. Existence is a simple miracle, which we should
appreciate more. How can we harm another miracle? How can
we even threaten to harm another miracle? How can we
tolerate policies of our government that threaten the
wanton mass destruction of the miracle of life?
If we could live each day in the full understanding
that life is a miracle, we would live differently. We
would be more attentive and we would take less for
granted. We would see more beauty and we would see greed
for what it is. We would be more involved. We would care
more. We would live as if the future mattered, and we
would confront the evil of nuclear weapons more
There has never before been a time in human history in
which one species has had the ability to destroy all
species. But this is the time, and we are the species.
The question we face as we enter this new century and
millennium is whether we can meet the unique challenge
that confronts us: Can we come together to overcome
nuclear arms, an evil of our own creation? This is a
threshold challenge. If we can meet it, then we can go
forward to meet the many other challenges confronting us
of inequities, human rights abuses, overpopulation,
environmental degradation, poverty, disease, managing our
common heritage, and resolving our conflicts without
TFF & the author 2001
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