The theme at Great Neck SANE Peace Action/Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives commemoration of the 73rd Anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which opened an era in human history in which annihilation of all life as we know it could be achieved at the push of a button, was optimism.
But even the keynote speaker William Hartung of the Center for International Policy, seemed to strain to be optimistic as he took the podium at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock.
The optimism came from the fact that 122 nations have signed their support of a United Nations Treaty to End Nuclear Weapons; when 50 actually sign the treaty, it would become international law.
But not a single one of the nine nations which actually have nuclear weapons, including the United States and Russia, signed.
Each year that I have gone to these annual commemorations, I get more and more skeptical, especially as the participants have become fewer and fewer in number.
The activists at their height brought together one million in Central Park in 1982 to decry the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the single most lethal day in human history, when more than 150,000 were instantly eradicated and hundreds of thousands more suffered slow painful deaths.
That protest resulted in Reagan negotiating a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
But each year, more and more of those who lived through decades of Cold War terror and the environmental destruction of nuclear testing, die off; younger idealists can only fathom hypothetical extinction.
122 nations signing support for ending nuclear weapons?
Well, 195 nations signed on the Paris Climate Accord, but that didn’t stop Trump from withdrawing the United States, which though only 5 percent of global population generates 25 percent of the emissions that cause global-warming.
Climate change is an existential threat to the planet as much as nuclear holocaust– the difference might be in the degree of horror in the space of an instant.
We are already seeing the horrors in the California wildfires, record heat, record flooding, record superstorms, and the drought, famine, sickness and death that result.
An unprecedented 69 million refugees forced to flee their homes has destabilized democratic governments and alliances; now imagine when rising sea levels force 200 million to find higher ground and compete for scarcer resources.
Though climate change may be a slower death, it can also become the trigger to a nuclear conflict
Banning nuclear weapons?
One million people turned out for the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. and around the country for sensible gun control.
What did we get instead? 3D ghost guns, untraceable, undetectable, which can be easily manufactured at the push of a button by felons, domestic abusers, terrorists.
War no more? Trump just signed a $717 billion military appropriations bill – biggest in history.
And now Trump wants to create a US Space Force. “Space, the next battlefield….Space is a war fighters domain,” VP Michael Pence so proudly proclaimed.
Ground zero for all of this is the sociopathic monster who inhabits the White House, whose trade, economic, and foreign policies all come down to this: an extortion for NATO, Saudi Arabia and others to buy U.S.-manufactured armaments.
He wants a trillion dollars to upgrade the nuclear arsenal; he wants other countries, like South Korea and Saudi Arabia to have their own nuclear weapons.
He has pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, virtually daring Iran to restart its nuclear program (it can get a headstart by buying from North Korea), while ignoring the fact North Korea is doing nothing toward denuclearization, because it makes him look bad (he might not get that Nobel prize after all).
With due respect to these tireless activists who have worked for decades to achieve humanity free of the terror of nuclear holocaust, the only silver lining to the debacle that is befalling the United States that I can find is that Trump has so inspired fear, that some in Congress are proposing legislation to make sure a Commander-in-Chief does not have unilateral ability to launch nuclear bombs.
But that discussion that was so frantic when Trump was promising to rain fire and fury on North Korea such as the world has never seen (and now has repeated against the government of Iran), seems to have abated after the Singapore summit. Fools.
That is why the 2018 midterm election is, in fact, the most important election of our lifetime.
We need a Senate that will pass treaties and to renew alliances with the rest of the world that not only improve lives but render conflict unnecessary.
We need a House that will redirect federal funding away from the military industrial complex and back to helping people become the best version of themselves.
And we need a leader in the White House who will restore America’s leadership on nuclear disarmament, climate action, human rights.