*** This was written on behalf of the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice to commemorate and remember the atomic bombings of early August 1945. I wrote this with a great deal of editing and support from CCPJ members Tony Russell, David Swanson, Kirk Bowers, and Bob McAdams. Please join us this Friday at our exhibit on the downtown mall highlighting the bombings, their vicious effects, the effects of nuclear testing, and the effects of decades of committed activism worldwide.
The Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice asks all people in the Charlottesville- Albemarle area to reflect and mourn the deaths of over 200,000 human beings in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945. Many of those who died were children. No matter what one’s opinion on the original use of nuclear weapons on human beings, we all might pause to reflect on the horror that occurred, and confront the reality that the world still lives with the daily threat of total annihilation through the use of atomic weaponry.
67 years is a very long time for the world to live in fear of almost certain annihilation were a nuclear exchange to take place. One would think that in all that time we would have found a way to limit our capacity to burn children in seconds, and murder one another not just as humans, but as nations, races, whole continents, our entire planet. We might have become concerned about the deaths and injuries of thousands due to nuclear testing, and the use of depleted uranium in “conventional” warfare. It is with these great concerns for humanity and the planet that the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice was founded, and with this concern that we call for a renewed spirit of harmony and compassion within the world and a renewed call for nuclear disarmament.
The earth today, despite the end of the cold war, is still confronted with the crisis of nuclear proliferation now more than any time since the birth of the atomic age. The U.S. and Russia still collectively control over 18,000 nuclear weapons with a combined 3,950 on active alert. These active weapons, again despite the end of the Soviet Union, remain at a moment’s notice, still aimed at the same targets (aka human beings) as they did in 1982 when the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice was founded in part “…as a grassroots response to the threat of nuclear war…”
In a matter of hours, perhaps less than an hour, the world can be destroyed in a ball of flame and radioactive rain by the decision of one person, human error, technological error, or escalation of conventional military engagements. Add to this global threat of approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons with approximately 4,400 active weapons not only the United States but the inclusion of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel (as well as nations that “share” atomic weapons through NATO through NATO, such as Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey), who seek to use the concept of mutually assured destruction (M.A.D.) to meet their own political and economic aims. We can see why the commemoration of the original attacks, and a renewal of the call for total nuclear disarmament is as important now as it has ever been.
As lovers of peace and justice, we are grateful that no other country to date has followed the United States’ lead in actually using nuclear weapons, either on civilians or military targets. We are grateful that a movement for peace and sanity has thus far stalled the use of these horrific weapons since their debut in 1945. We are all too aware of the thousands of deaths and casualties as a result of nuclear testing and the use of depleted uranium in current wars that the U.S. are involved in. We recognize that the call for total disarmament requires the participation of all nations in order to become a reality, but that as peace lovers here in the U.S., where the largest arsenal of combat ready nukes are sustained and maintained, we have the responsibility to act where we live and atone for our past failures to do so.
We recognize that other nations cannot be forced to disarm, but they can be compelled to through international peace work. That peace work can only be accomplished if the United States, the only nation to purposely drop atomic weapons on human beings and the largest owner of nukes, set an example by taking meaningful steps. We recognize too that peace work requires an attention to solving this crisis through peace and diplomacy, not by military means meant to forcibly disarm other nations who currently have atomic weaponry, or who the US deems a threat because of a desire to acquire nuclear technology for medical or energy uses. A military solution only perpetuates the desire to acquire nukes from nations that don’t have them, and further erodes trust and relationships amongst nations of the world and especially of the U.S. where we control the largest amounts of weapons of mass destruction on the planet, have used them on people, and are the only country currently engaged in invading and occupying other nations.
In today’s climate of perpetual war and endless military engagements the cause for disarmament has often been overlooked in the buzz of the current wars and the next wars being planned by the war machine. We remind all peace loving peoples that the peace symbol, ubiquitous as a symbol for opposing war and solving conflict through non-violence, is actually a design based on semiphore for “ND”- “Nuclear Disarmament”.
We want a return to the logic and sanity that peace begets peace and that fundamentally the biggest threat to peace is the possibility of nuclear war among nations. Let us think big, let us renew the call for nuclear disarmament and start with our own responsibility to act first.
True peace can come only by removing the venom of fear, hatred, greed and cruelty. We urge everyone to help bring real peace through justice and compassion.