Friday, August 6, 2010

On August 6th, We Should Take One Small Step to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

On August 6th, We Should Take One Small Step to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

August 6th often passes through our lives without a ripple. Unless it is a birthday or some sort of celebration, most of us never associate this date with anything of great significance.

But August 6th is a day that lives with me in a very different way. This year, the date marks the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, and the incineration of 100,000 lives in the flash of the first nuclear weapon ever detonated in wartime.

Five years ago, on an impossibly hot morning in Hiroshima, Japan, I sat with thousands of other Japanese and international guests in the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan. at 8:15 that morning-the time on August 6th, 1945 that the A-bomb detonated in an instant of mass annihilation- a flight of doves were released into the Hiroshima sky, and a bell solemnly tolled in memory of those who were killed in the attack. It was, for me, a moment of deep sadness and reflection on my own life as an advocate of the abolition of all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

This past May, I was invited to speak at a number of events during the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations in New York. At one of the interfaith events, I met several of the Hibakusha, a Japanese word designating survivors of the nuclear attack in Hiroshima, and the one three days later that destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki and effectively resulted in Japan's surrender in World War II. These survivors are very old, and many of them have suffered for decades from the horrible effects of the radiation they were exposed to some 65 years ago. But they been the most powerful and unwavering advocates for international peace and the abolition of all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

Yet nuclear weapons, and the dangers of unchecked proliferation and nuclear holocaust, remain at the forefront of clear and present dangers to the survival of humankind.

So I will do more than just reflect and mourn the tragedy of the Hiroshima bombing. This year, i will ask my friends and colleagues to join me in supporting a concrete effort to call on the American government to play a necessary political and moral role in ending the nuclear terror that confronts us all.

My colleague and friend Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee has introduced a new campaign, called Waging Peace, that encourages citizens to let our senators and representatives know that the United States can make a significant contribution to the global abolition of these weapons of mass destruction. We can demand an end to the perpetual funding of our nation's nuclear weapons complex, and the billions of dollars being spent on research and development of new nuclear weapons. And we can promote a verifiable strategic arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia, with the goal of eventually reducing the atomic arsenals of both nations to zero.

We must all pray for peace, and for the total abolition of the most terrible weapons that threaten not only peace but our mutual survival. But those of us who are citizens or residents of America have important work to do as well, because America, aside from being the world's greatest nuclear weapons power, is also the only nation to have used these weapons against civilian populations in time of war.

I ask you, in the name of the nuclear victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the untold victims of nuclear testing, to take five minutes and join the Waging Peace campaign. The link to the campaign appears below.

Thank you, and may we all live in a world without nuclear weapons.

No comments: