NuclearBan.US Campaign Coordinator, Lydia Wood delivered the following statement at The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice event “The World We Want: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again” and The Grafton Peace Pagoda’s Hiroshima Nagasaki Day – 73rd Commemoration Ceremony.
My name is Lydia and I am the Campaign Coordinator for NuclearBan.US, an organization committed to achieving the total abolition of nuclear weapons. When I first began working on the Nuclear Ban campaign I thought of nuclear weapons as inhumane tools of mass destruction – but surely a threat that paled in comparison to climate change, the rampant inequality and racism that pervades our towns, nation, and globe, and the militarization of our planet. However, I’ve come to view these issues as interconnected. The same mentality that led to the invention and proliferation of nuclear weapons is part of the same mentalities that underlie other systems of oppression, dehumanization, and exploitation. Nuclear weapons are an ultimate expression of oppression and violence. They are not tools for nation security. They are not a weapon of peace. They are immoral, inhumane weapons that have the power to destroy entire cities of civilians, entire ecosystems, and the planet.
To invest in nuclear weapons is to invest in the morally bankrupt notion that peace and security can comes through a commitment to mass death. Since exploding onto the world scene in 1945, there have been over one thousand nuclear mishaps that could have led to a catastrophic nuclear explosion, and thirteen close calls that almost led to general nuclear war. According to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War approximately 2.4 million people will eventually die from cancer caused by exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing. And like many of our systems of oppression it has been indigenous peoples, colonized regions, and women who are most impacted by nuclear weapons production, testing, and use.
This past week marked the 73rd anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing. People gathered around the world to remember the 250,000 men, women, and children who were murdered by the bombing. Each of those people was an individual with a family, a life, interests, and a future. As we reflect on the violence of nuclear weapons I urge you to expand your image of what this violence has entailed to include the millions of downwinders, atomic veterans, the test victims who suffered the consequences of radioactive fallout, the radiated landscapes and ecosystems we’ve left behind, and the untold millions suffering the consequences of a government that prioritize investments in weapons of mass destruction instead of food, health care, and housing for the poor. These are the true costs of nuclear weapons and they are indefensible.
This event is also about envisioning a more peaceful world. Here is my vision for the world I hope for. I do not want a world where a handful of countries intimidate and hold the rest of the world hostage with tools of mass death. I do not want a government that will spend 1.7 trillion to build a more “usable” fleet of nuclear weapons, while at the same time saying these weapons should never be used. I do not want a country where national security is synonymous with more bombs, walls, and cages, but not more education, health care, jobs, and social services.
I do want a world that wages a war on poverty, militarism, hate, and environmental degradation. I want a world where nuclear weapons are illegal, stigmatized, and adamantly rejected. I want a world that has embraced the Nuclear Ban Treaty and nuclear weapons abolition.
Now is the time that we must come together to demand nuclear weapons be abolished and fortunately we have the tools. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is unequivocally clear – it prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons under International law. Now that we have this tool it is up to us to make it successful.
The NuclearBan.US campaign is working with cities, states, faith organizations, financial institutions, businesses, universities, and individuals throughout the country to get them to disconnect from the nuclear weapons industry. There are currently 25 corporations making nuclear weapons – not surprisingly many of these companies are US based. By working together to divest from, to boycott, and to pass local laws prohibiting or limiting our connection to these companies we can put pressure on these companies to leave the nuclear weapons industry. Making money off of the most destructive, immoral, and potentially apocalyptic weapons ever created is unacceptable. We can help make it politically unacceptable by publicly shaming and stigmatizing the companies making billions off these weapons.
To date we have two cities (Berkeley, CA and Takoma Park, MD) that have become “treaty aligned” by disconnecting from the nuclear weapons industry. Treaty alignment campaigns are underway in cities and states across the country, including right here in Western Massachusetts. A campaigns is underway in NYC to divest the city’s pension funds from nuclear weapons. California and Minnesota have introduced state legislation calling on the US to embrace the Nuclear Ban Treaty and nuclear disarmament, and we were just on the cover of one of the largest newspapers in Japan highlighting our campaign.
I urge you to join the campaign to help make this treaty successful by signing up on our website www.nuclearban.us or speak to me after the event.
I want to end with a quote from civil rights activist and anti-nuclear activist Mary Mcleod Bethune – “Are we to show our strength with guns and tanks – in atom bombs? Or in food for the hungry, plows for the fields, and in bringing peace to men of good will?”