Reflecting and Serving on Hiroshima Day

August 6, 2010

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and the beginning of a new era for the human race. Our capacity for destruction must be met with our more powerful capacity to be truly human.

As we commemorate this moment and take stock of our collective efforts to abolish these militarily useless, politically destabilizing, immoral weapons, I’d like to share with you a personal anecdote, recently published in the new book co-edited by MPI Steering Committee member Professor David Ives, Nuclear Proliferation and the Dilemma of Peace in the Twenty-First Century:

 
   

My oldest son came to me one night 16 years ago and said, “Dad, I’m going to Japan.” He was 16 years old at the time. And I said, “Oh, are you? And who’s paying for it?” He said, “The American Friends Service Committee. I’m going with a group of American teenagers and we’re going to interview survivors.” So he went, and spent the summer in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When he came back, I asked, “What did you learn?” He said, “I learned one thing, dad. You know, on mom’s side, we’re Armenian and that part of our family suffered a genocide. On your side, we’re Jewish and that part of the family also suffered a genocide. But I didn’t really grasp it deeply until I went there. Now what has hit me is that to kill massive numbers of innocent people you first have to dehumanize them, and we can no longer afford to dehumanize anybody on the planet earth. Whatever political system is operating in any country what is most important is whether its policy makers exercise compassion.”

I said, “Son, I am now your colleague. I’m not your teacher. I have not come much farther than this insight and I am still learning about it. We can learn together. ”

Sixteen years later, and I am still learning about it. I believe that this understanding is a point of reference from which we can all learn and serve together.

We are pleased to share with you, below, a sampling of some of the recent activities of our team in working to eliminate nuclear weapons, a key element in moving the world to a security system that addresses real human needs, based on law and compassion rather than fear and violence.

We are equally pleased to highlight some of the inspiring initiatives and campaigns of some of our colleagues, such as MPI member group IPPNW’s ever-growing ICAN campaign and the new offshoot, A Million Pleas campaign, just launched yesterday. If there are other disarmament campaigns underway that are not included in this list, please contact us immediately.

The importance of the diversity of all of these activities was noted in a recent statement by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in an address to the 2010 World Conference against A&H Bombs in Hiroshima. The Secretary-General delivered an impassioned plea for nuclear abolition in Tokyo, on a tour of Japan that will include both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This is the first such visit by a Secretary-General of the UN, and it is a testament to Mr. Ban’s commitment to our shared goal of a safer, saner, nuclear weapons-free future.

Jonathan Granoff
President

Recent Activities

Chatauqua

 

Jonathan Granoff discusses the role of nuclear arms in global security during Friday’s Interfaith Lecture at the Hall of Philosophy. Photo by Emily Fox

 
   

July 19-23, GSI President Jonathan Granoff co-chaired, with Rev. Joan Campbell, a week of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation discussions at the esteemed Chatauqua Instititute. Other speakers throughout the week include UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte, Senator Sam Nunn of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, GSI Board Member Rev. Tyler Wigg Stevenson of the Two Futures Project, Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine, and Graham Allison of Harvard University’s Belfer Center.

» Listen to Jonathan Granoff’s closing lecture
» Listen to Rev. Tyler Wigg Stevenson’s lecture, “More than Moralizing: Why Values Matter to Nuclear Security,”
» Watch a preview of Joe Cirincione’s lecture, “The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons”
» Read press reports about the events
» Learn more about the work of the Ploughshares Fund, the Two Futures Project, or the Nuclear Threat Initiative

Countdown to Zero

deepak plame noor granoff bender

(L-R): Lawrence Bender, Queen Noor, Deepak Chopra, Valerie Plame Wilson and Jonathan Granoff

(photo credit: Maro Hagopian/SIRIUS XM)
click on the image for more photos

   

The new documentary from Lawrence Bender, Jeffrey Skoll and Lucy Walker is one of the most useful outreach tools in a nuclear abolitionist’s arsenal. Its release last week proved particularly timely, as Senate ratification of the new START remains in debate, and activists can drive their constituents and neighbors to see the film during the August recess and levy extra pressure on their senators to ratify this important arms control treaty.

As a proud supporter of Countdown to Zero and its unequivocal message of nuclear abolition, GSI has been active promoting the film and engaging audiences on these issues. Deepak Chopra held a special episode of his Sirius radio show on the subject, featuring a discussion with producer Lawrence Bender, Queen Noor of Jordan, Valerie Plame Wilson and Jonathan Granoff. GSI hosted a free screening of the event in Rockland, Maine, home to two key, Republican senators who have not yet declared their support for START. The Huffington Post published an article on its front page by Mr. Granoff and GSI Senior Officer Rhianna Tyson Kreger, extolling the virtues of the film and encouraging likeminded nuclear abolitionists to supplement the film’s message with more education on these issues.

» Watch clips from Deepak Chopra’s radio show
» Read the Huffington Post op/ed
» Read how the Rockland screening puts pressure on Senators Snowe and Collins

Doug Roche, Tadatoshi Akiba  

Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba presents the Certificate of Hiroshima Special Honorary Citizenship to Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C. at Hiroshima 2020 Conference for his work as founding Chairman of the
Middle Powers Initiative
.

Photo by Hideki Tanimura

 
   

MPI Founder Honored in Hiroshima

Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and Chairman Emeritus of the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI), was named a Special Honorary Citizen of Hiroshima at an international conference in Hiroshima July 28-29 for his work in founding MPI.

The conference, held a few days before the historic visit to Hiroshima of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, issued an appeal to governments, which have already called for a comprehensive legal process toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, to convene a special conference in 2011 “to facilitate the start of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.”

» Read more about Senator Roche’s recognition in Hiroshima
» Read his presentation to the Hiroshima 2020 Conference

Ongoing Campaigns

 
   

» International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
» Mayors for Peace’s 2020 Vision Campaign
» Global Zero
» A Million Pleas Campaign to support a binding, verifiable abolition treaty
» Campaign for a Nuclear Weapon Free World
» Ending funding for new modernization facilities in Los Alamos
» Countdown to Zero‘s START ratification campaign