Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan were destroyed 77 years ago this week. The two bombs the United States dropped on those cities killed some 200,000 human beings, most of whom were civilians. Comparing those bombs to the weapons of today is like comparing a colonial era musket to an AR-15.
Now we can snuff out the lives of billions with the push of a button. When you consider the other species we’d annihilate, the number of lives lost “mushrooms” into the trillions. The result would be the destruction of a large portion of life on the planet.
MAD is Mutually Assured Destruction, the actual nuclear war planners’ term.
Think of the billions of years of evolutionary work that would be undone.
Think of everything our ancestors created and passed down to us… incinerated.
Think of all the art, literature, music, poetry that humans created through the millennia…up in smoke. The genius of Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Beethoven… destroyed.
Think of everything you worked for, planned for, hoped for… gone.
Think of everyone you love wiped from the face of the earth.
All that will remain is death and suffering.
Man, who has killed so much in his brief existence on this planet, will have committed the ultimate crime…omnicide…the murder of all life.
Those “lucky” enough to survive will have to suffer in toxic destruction.
The aftermath of the holocaust will be worse than anything dystopian writers ever imagined.
All as a result of just one fateful decision, one evil act, one miscalculation, one system error, or some confluence of these events.
While all life on earth hangs in the balance, we go about our lives. We’ve normalized something that is abnormal, abhorrent, and insane.
We are under continuous threat. We don’t fully understand the psychological harm…the fear and anxiety that we experience at some level of our individual and collective psyches that struggles to grapple with our omnipresent potential destruction. The nuclear Sword of Damocles dangling above our heads while we eat, sleep, work and play.
Our collective fate is in the hands of nine people who control the 13,000 nuclear warheads in the world… these weapons of massive obliteration. Nine fallible and flawed human beings have the means to destroy all life on the planet. Are we really okay with this? Do we trust them with the lives of everyone we know and love? Isn’t it past time for a sanity check?
No one is safe. This war moved beyond the battlefield long ago. The front lines are in every country, in every town and city, in your backyard, and in your children’s and grandchildren’s bedrooms.
Some think of nuclear weapons as a life insurance policy. They think that although we don’t want to use them, they are good to have when we need them. This thinking could not be more wrong. Since these weapons have been in existence, there have been more near misses and close calls than any rational person would be comfortable with. We’ve escaped annihilation by luck!
Scientists concur; we are in extreme danger right now. As long as these weapons of mass destruction exist, the question is not if they will be used, but when, at which point we get perhaps 30 minutes to say our goodbyes. The arms races of today do not make us safe; they put all of us in jeopardy while making weapons manufacturers wealthy.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way to have real safety and security, health, and well-being. Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and North Koreans need not be our enemies.
There are only two ways to eliminate an enemy… either destroy him or make him your friend. Given the weapons in question, destroying the enemy assures our own destruction. It’s a murder/suicide pact. That leaves only one option. We have to talk through our differences and convert our enemies into our friends. The time has come to realize this previously unimagined possibility.
All people of all nations are faced with the interrelated threats of pandemics, climate crises, and nuclear annihilation. These existential threats cannot be solved by any one nation. These global threats require global solutions. They force us to adopt a new paradigm. We need dialog, diplomacy, strong democratized international institutions, and an expansive portfolio of verifiable and enforceable de-militarizing international treaties to reduce fear and build trust.
Nuclear weapons are all illegal. There are nine rogue states that continue to threaten all of us with their nuclear weapons…the United States, Russia, China, England, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. The governments of these nations need to be pushed to adopt the new paradigm. They are stuck in the old paradigm of zero-sum games, “might makes right,” and treating the earth as a geopolitical chessboard while fighting over land, resources, or ideology. Martin Luther King was right when he said that we will either learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish together as fools.
We cannot leave all of life on this beautiful planet in the hands of nine people. These people and their governments have chosen either consciously or unconsciously to threaten us all. We, the people, have the power to change that. We just have to exercise it.
John Miksad of Wilton is Volunteer Chapter Coordinator with World Beyond War.