For good reason, we have come to adopt the language of war when it comes to “fighting” the unrelenting pandemic. Every day we receive the number of those affected and total deaths. To go on offense, we engaged in Operation Warp Speed. We even predict the times of the fiercest national battles, such as days after holiday get-togethers.Worst of all, the media brings “the front lines” to our living rooms, bewailing the inability to keep up with the casualties wheeled into ICUs.
As our nation’s disease-control experts strain to know the ways of the enemy, we now realize that we have become overwhelmed because of the lack of anticipation of the dire consequences. Had we understood, like Taiwan, the absolute necessity of a total lockdown from the get-go, literally hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared, not to mention lifelong side effects of varying degrees. Months of inaction left us out there like sitting ducks.
In this harsh light, we must also assess the consequences of allowing nuclear weaponry not only continue to exist, but also become so sophisticated that it would only take a geographically limited exchange of missiles to cause a nuclear cloud so toxic that in a short matter of time, the entire planet would be covered, leading to deaths and disease in numbers so catastrophic that recovery would be impossible. As Back From The Brink (BFTB) leader, Dr. Ira Helfand, of Northampton often cites, all it would take is for longstanding rivals like India and Pakistan to initiate a war that would unleash one third of each’s arsenal, or about one hundred nuclear missiles. No amount of health-care could even begin to meet the unthinkably enormous need; no gated community would be exempt; no safe drinking water for anyone; no soil not suffused in lethal radioactive substances.
With 2021, now here, there truly is good news for the inhabitants of the globe. Over fifty nations of the U.N. have ratified The Treaty For The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or TPNW. Three years in the making, it will be an international crime for any of these fifty nations to either possess or aid in their manufacture, starting January 22. Conceived in 2017, by the Nobel Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, we have a starting place to advance the vision of a world without nuclear force.
Of course, our country as well as the eight others who build and sell them, have boycotted the Treaty. Why, considering the real possibility of omnicide, have they refused? In short, the military-industrial complex has, for now nearly eighty years, become deeply invested, every year receiving billions from the Defense Dept.’s budget. Consider this: our Commonwealth’s largest employer is a nuclear arms producer: Raytheon in Waltham. Also complicit is the extensive research carried on by L3Harris, with a branch here in Northampton.
Anti-nuclear activists see the issue like ICAN. Just as the nuclear-armed nations have boycotted the Treaty, so must we boycott the twenty odd companies who contribute to the monstrous business of annihilation. Not that we want their demise, but that they use their genius to research what needs to be done to dismantle their Warheads to fashion Windmills, the book-title of a recent brilliant analysis by Nuclear Ban.US co leader,Tim Wallis, of Northampton.
Only by committing ourselves to take action and the steps necessary to “bend their swords into ploughshares” as the ancient prophet, Isaiah, envisioned, will we have sufficiently anticipated the consequences of our dangerous neglect, our blind dismissal of so unimaginatively grave a prospect. Already local NuclearBan.US activists are preparing an area-wide celebration of the establishment Treaty, officially going into effect on Jan.22nd. Kudos to Northampton’s City Council who, together with Mayor Narciewicz, have endorsed it in 2019, along with other cities and towns here and across the state, and nation. Applause also to our Rep. McGovern, and state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, together with Sen. Jo Cumerford.
May 2021 begin the ever growing march toward the goal of a future we safely can hand down to our children’s children, remembering on the way, the enduringly relevant Chinese proverb: “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Only then can we affirm our answer to the question whether we can end this self-destructive, cost-guzzling madness threatening every person dear to us, wherever we call our homeland.
Rev. Peter Kakos, Northampton, member of NCFF, a chapter of Nuclear Ban.US, and ICAN. December 31, 2020.