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By Anthony Donovan,
Dorothy Day knew how vast military spending takes directly from our humanitarian needs. Albert Einstein repeatedly reminded us that nuclear weapons were a dangerous false sense of security. Let us sing out from the hilltops just some of the accomplishments of 2017:
MLK, Jr.’s Beyond Vietnam speech was honored throughout the land. The 50th Anniversary: “Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs. A nation that year after year spends more money on military expenses than on social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Standing up to the policies that create war, “the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism”, leading us in 2018 to the 50th Anniversary of The Poor People’s Campaign.
Pope Francis championed and opened the UN Conference on the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in March. He challenged “the principle threats to peace and security with their many dimensions in the multi-polar world of the 21st century as, for example, terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cyber security, environmental problems, poverty, not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response.” With tears of jubilation on July 7th, this long awaited, hard earned, historic Treaty was adopted by 122 nations. September 20th, when it opened to the world for signature, the Vatican was the first to sign.
Srs. Ardeth and Carol of Jonah House put the Treaty directly into the hands of commanders of several Air Force Bases in Colorado and Germany.
On the very day the Treaty was opened, Amalgamated Bank of New York announced it was “Divesting in Warfare” and will not deal with any company that is involved in anyway with nuclear weapons. The first U.S. bank to do so, it lends strong impetus for the emerging international Divestment movement. We’re asking all organizations and individuals to know what companies their mutual funds or retirement plans invest in, and how their bank uses their money. We are connecting with the Climate campaigns, knowing even one detonation will be an immediate, catastrophic setback.
Pope Francis in November brought together top level international officials, experts, scholars and leaders of civil society to discern how best to encourage “Prospects For A World Free Of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament”
Of many summations the symposium stated that fallout from testing or a detonation contaminates our atmosphere and oceans, and “could constitute as a crime against humanity.” Contributing to fear and conflict, nuclear deterrence creates a culture of “mutual intimidation” not a stable or secure peace. Echoing Dorothy Day’s truths, “Spending on nuclear weapons wastes resources that are needed to address the root causes of conflicts and to promote development… Peace is built on a foundation of justice.”
Remaining clear “The threat of their use, as well as their possession, is to be firmly condemned… [We] must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.” The Holy Father calls upon all states to ratify the Treaty, and that the Catholic Church is committed to that essential dialogue.
Outside during the Treaty negotiations, Catholic Workers among others were arrested for non violent action in front of our US Embassy calling our nation toward it’s responsibility toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.
The Nobel Committee awarded the 2017 Peace Prize to the young organization, ICAN (International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, formed in 2007 by The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, themselves winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985) for their organizing of hundreds of organizations of Civil Society for this Ban Treaty.
On December 10th the two representing ICAN each delivered fearless Nobel Lectures. Beatrice Fihn, “There is only one way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons: Prohibit and eliminate them.”
And survivor of Hiroshima, Mrs. Setsuko Thurlow, “The development of nuclear weapons signifies not a countries elevation to greatness, but it’s decent to the darkest depths of depravity. These weapons are not a necessary evil. They are the ultimate evil.”
The Chair of the Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen offered strong logic for the Award: “Drawing attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. …Todays weapons are far more destructive than those dropped in 1945. [The death and suffering from them continues until today] They can kill millions of people and altar the climate and destabilize societies never before seen by humanity. The notion of a limited nuclear war is an illusion…. It is virtually impossible for civilians to protect themselves…. the use or threat of use of them are therefore unacceptable by any grounds, whether humanitarian, moral, or legal.” She said the “logic of this balance of terror” was not a matter soley for experts or politicians, “nuclear weapons concern everyone.” Of the NPT (Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty) which the nuclear states cite for continuing the status quo, “It is no exaggeration to say that the nuclear weapon states have only to a limited degree honored this pledge, and the disarmament commitment they made.” The NPT Review Conference calls for “an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their arsenals.” Adding vitally, “If the disarmament process had been carried out as intended, ICANs struggle … would have been unneeded. It is the lack of progress towards nuclear disarmament [and the disregarding of obligations and commitments made] that has made the necessity.” The nuclear weapon states argue that they haven’t begun to comply with these commitments, because others are building nuclear arsenals, thus promoting a “vicious cycle”. Not accepting the stagnation, continuing, “Binding international prohibitions have already been established for chemical weapons, biological weapons, land mines and cluster weapons, precisely because of the harm and suffering that these weapons inflict on civilian populations. It defies common sense that nuclear weapons which are far more dangerous are not subject to a comparable ban under international law. Many think that the vision of a nuclear free world, global zero, is utopic or even irresponsible. Similar arguments were once used to oppose the treaties to ban [the above weapons]. None the less the prohibitions became a reality and most of these weapons are far less prevalent today as a result. Using them is taboo.”
As of this writing the ban Treaty has been signed by 56 states.
“The time to honor this is now!” The Committee trusts “an international legal ban and a broad popular engagement will put pressure on all nuclear armed states and expedite the process.”
In September 2016 this writer sat with the offices of 65 U.S. Representatives of our Armed Service and Appropriations Committees among others to talk about three things: what one of today’s nuclear weapons can actually do, the incalculable amount of tax money this industry costs us, and if they were aware of the growing international humanitarian impact movement around this. Mostly no one seemed to know any of the above. That was enlightening, and very troubling.
This December 7th with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office we reviewed again the above along with a report on our local NY Amalgamated Bank, the historic Treaty adopted two blocks from her office, the Nobel Peace Prize, tying in the effects of these weapons on her stated advocacy for Climate, and the Treaty being a more advantageous approach facing the concern about the North Korean leader who follows our own reasoning for deterrence. The ask was to continue more informative followups, and to have a simple public acknowledgement of the tremendous efforts of the Treaty and the Nobel Peace Prize.
Our work is to love life, take care of our hearts, and continue in every way to lobby, call, walk, and keep engaging with each and everyone on the subject.
Pope Francis: “Everything is connected; and everyone is connected. Together we can rid the world of nuclear weapons, invest in integral human development, and build peace.” These events “do not represent the end of the conversation, but rather the beginning of future dialogue and action.”
The youth get it. It is our responsibility to give all we can to allow them a world to live, love and explore in. Onward, together.