The Power of Vision
26th Annual Interfaith Peace Gathering
in Commemoration of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombings
Monday, August 5, 2019
Japan Society Auditorium
New York City
President Global Security Institute;
Representative to the United Nations of the World Summit of Noble Peace Laureates; and,Ambassador for Peace, Security and Nuclear Disarmament of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
Thank you Rev. T. Kejitsu Nakagaki, for your enormous efforts to organize this powerful event, Ms. Tomika Morimoto West for your courage and wisdom, and Your Excellency Ambassador Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations of Japan, for the consistent support of Japan for efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and keeping the international community focused on their abolition. Thank you my friends and colleagues for taking the time to be here to care, remember, and commit to action.
Let the thousands of innocent lives, especially the tens of thousands of precious children, killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki call us to action to prevent such horror from being repeated. Let us carry the full measure of responsibility to work to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.
There are excellent educational projects that inform and inspire. The Children of the Atomic Bomb has an excellent lesson plan for children and high school students. https://www.aasc.ucla.edu/cab/200908260001.html#lesson2
The William Perry Project, created by the former US Secretary of Defense, is outstanding for university students and any adult serious about learning the reality of nuclear weapons and the policies that drive the threat.https://www.wjperryproject.org/
The devices that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki put before humanity a choice that it has never had before. Any generation hence must decide whether it will be the last. Should this decision even be in anyone’s hands, no less a few men and woman no more gifted and wise than the rest of us.
George Kennan, the distinguished American diplomat who originated the Cold War containment policy toward the Soviet Union, stated, “The readiness to use nuclear weapons against other human beings – against people we do not know, whom we have never seen, and whose guilt or innocence is not for us to establish – and, in doing so, to place in jeopardy the natural structure upon which all civilization rests, as though the safety and perceived interests of our own generation were more important than everything that has taken place or could take place in civilization: this is nothing less than a presumption, a blasphemy, an indignity – an indignity of monstrous dimensions – offered to God!”GEORGE F. KENNAN, THE NUCLEAR DELUSION 206– 07 (1982))
Albert Einstein said, “The unleashing of the power of the atom bomb has changed everything except our mode of thinking, and thus we head toward unparalleled catastrophes.”
It is vision that changes modes of thinking. But vision must be clear and strong.
The United Nations was founded to prevent the scourge of war and most people are surprised to find out that the very first resolution of the General Assembly called for creating a Commission to generate proposals, among other things, “for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adoptable to mass destruction.” Nuclear weapons should compel a vision of clarion urgency. This call was not adequate. The world saw an arms race that nearly ended everything.
It is crucial that vision must be compelling in its clarity. If we have no “where” to go we will go nowhere. Action without purpose is traveling without a destination. Vision is the catalyst that can awaken our better self to action. The recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons, the Ban Treaty, issues such a call and for that reason it should be supported. But much more work needs to done.
The work involves fulfilling existing promises for progress in disarmament pledged pursuant to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty which includes banning any further testing of nuclear weapons, entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, obtaining a treaty preventing any further creation of weapons grade fissile material, strengthening International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, lowering the status of the weapons, such as no first use pledges, and, as the International Court of Justice has unanimously ruled, negotiating a legal instrument or instruments eliminating the weapons.
Without a clear vision of the security obtained by a nuclear weapons free world these reasonable steps are unlikely to be obtained. Vision is the powerful magnet that brings change. And once released a compelling vision can change the world.. Here is an example.
A vision was stated on July 4, 1776 in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
When it was stated people without property, woman and people of color were not included in this equation. However, this vision contained a powerful seed that has blossomed into a tree of expanded liberty from the oppression of kings and today even hypocritical tyrants pay the prize of hypocrisy when giving these principles lip service while its compelling magnetism continues to drive the world toward greater justice and peace.
On August 28, 1963 in Washington, DC, Martin Luther King Jr. revived that vision:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”
When President’s Reagan and Gorbachev met in Geneva in 1985 they put in motion enormous social change by stating clearly the need for cooperation to make the world safer and avoid nuclear war. (https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/research/speeches/112185a)
In their Nov. 21, 1985 Joint Statement they stated:
“The sides, having discussed key security issues, and conscious of the special responsibility of the USSR and the U.S. for maintaining peace, have agreed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Recognizing that any conflict between the USSR and the U.S. could have catastrophic consequences, they emphasized the importance of preventing any war between them, whether nuclear or conventional. They will not seek to achieve military superiority.”
Since this statement , which helped create the dynamic that ended the Cold War, the arsenals of these two nations have gone from over 70,000 weapons to less than 15,000 today. That is not an insignificant accomplishment. But much more work needs to be done.
Russia keeps asking now to reaffirm this principle and gets no answer from the US Administration. This is simply outrageous. In fact it is worse than that, it is terrifying in its implications. (https://www.newsweek.com/russia-ask-us-no-nuclear-weapons-1443464)
Despite its being ignored by the public the existing US policy rejects the insights of Geneva and seems to contemplate actual uses in war of nuclear weapons.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Military in its recent Joint Publication 3-72 Nuclear Operations June 11, 2019 states:
Integration of nuclear weapons into a theater of operations requires the consideration of multiple variables. Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict. Weapons, platforms, weather conditions, and planning requirements are unique in the case of nuclear weapons due to their prompt and sustained effects. As such, careful deliberation of nuclear weapons use includes their impact on future operations throughout the operational environment.
“Prevail in conflict” means winning by using nuclear weapons. This is not an informal document. It carries the full weight of the US military. It is formal policy. It states its purpose as follows:
This publication has been prepared under the direction of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). It sets forth joint doctrine to govern the activities and performance of the Armed Forces of the United States in joint operations, and it provides considerations for military interaction with governmental and nongovernmental agencies, multinational forces, and other inter-organizational partners. It provides military guidance for the exercise of authority by combatant commanders and other joint force commanders (JFCs), and prescribes joint doctrine for operations and training. It provides military guidance for use by the Armed Forces in preparing and executing their plans and orders. It is not the intent of this publication to restrict the authority of the JFC from organizing the force and executing the mission in a manner the JFC deems most appropriate to ensure unity of effort in the accomplishment of objectives.”
This presents a vision of the viable use of nuclear weapons. This is insane.
General George Lee Butler, former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Strategic Air Command and U.S. Strategic Command, was responsible for all nuclear forces of the American Air Force and Navy said:
“Despite all the evidence, we have yet to fully grasp the monstrous effect of these weapons, that the consequences of their use defy reason, transcending time and space, poisoning the Earth and deforming its inhabitants.” Nuclear weapons are “inherently dangerous, hugely expensive and militarily inefficient.” General Butler stated that “accepting nuclear weapons as the ultimate arbiter of conflict condemns the world to live under a dark cloud of perpetual anxiety. Worse, it codifies mankind’s most murderous instincts as an acceptable resort when other options for resolving conflict fail.” He added, “I have spent years studying nuclear weapons effects . . . have investigated a distressing array of accidents and incidents involving strategic weapons and forces . . . I came away from that experience deeply troubled by what I see as the burden of building and maintaining nuclear arsenals . . . the grotesquely destructive war plans, the daily operational risks, and the constant prospect of a crisis that would hold the fate of entire societies at risk.”
(quoting Otto Kreisher, Retired Generals Urge End to Nuclear Arsenal, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIB., Dec. 5, 1996, at A1).
The scientific dimension of nuclear weapons is understandably difficult to comprehend.“The UN in its 1991 report found the ‘(n)uclear weapons represent a historically new form of weaponry with unparalleled destructive potential. A single large nuclear weapon could release explosive power comparable to all the energy released from the conventional weapons used in all past wars.’” ( WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, UNITED NATIONS, EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WAR ON HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES 7 (2d ed. 1987)); see also DEPARTMENT FOR DISARMAMENT AFFAIRS, UNITED NATIONS, NUCLEAR WEAPONS: A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY 7 (1991).
The horror of a nuclear weapon’s actual affects are illustrated in the following quote from Stansfield Turner, former Director of the CIA:
“The fireball created by a nuclear explosion will be much hotter than the surface of the sun for fractions of a second and will radiate light and heat, as do all objects of very high temperature. Because the fireball is so hot and close to the earth, it will deliver enormous amounts of heat and light to the terrain surrounding the detonation point, and it will be hundreds or thousands of times brighter than the sun at noon. If the fireball is created by the detonation of a 1-MT [megaton] nuclear weapon, for example, within roughly eight- to nine-tenths of a second each section of its surface will be radiating about three times as much heat and light as a comparable area of the sun itself. The intense flash of light and heat from the explosion of a 550-KT weapon can carbonize exposed skin and cause clothing to ignite. At a range of three miles, for instance, surfaces would fulminate and recoil as they emanate flames, and even particles of sand would explode like pieces of popcorn from the rapid heating of the fireball. At three and a half miles, where the blast pressure would be about 5psi, the fireball could ignite clothing on people, curtains and upholstery in homes and offices, and rubber tires on cars. At four miles, it could blister aluminum surfaces, and at six to seven miles it could still set fire to dry leaves and grass. This flash of incredibly intense, nuclear-driven sunlight could simultaneously set an uncountable number of fires over an area of close to 100 square miles.” STANSFIELD TURNER (former Director of CIA, CAGING THE NUCLEAR GENIE 9 (1997)
Let me share some insights from America’s greatest modern visionary, Dr. King who said in Oslo Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on December 10, 1964:
“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome!
Also while in Oslo he delivered on December 11, 1964 the Nobel Lecture, which is a stunning speech rarely quoted on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US. In relevant part he stated;
… Recent events have vividly reminded us that nations are not reducing but rather increasing their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. The best brains in the highly developed nations of the world are devoted to military technology. The proliferation of nuclear weapons has not been halted, in spite of the Limited Test Ban Treaty16. On the contrary, the detonation of an atomic device by the first nonwhite, non- Western, and so-called underdeveloped power, namely the Chinese People’s Republic17, opens new vistas of exposure of vast multitudes, the whole of humanity, to insidious terrorization by the ever-present threat of annihilation. The fact that most of the time human beings put the truth about the nature and risks of the nuclear war out of their minds because it is too painful and therefore not “acceptable”, does not alter the nature and risks of such war. The device of “rejection” may temporarily cover up anxiety, but it does not bestow peace of mind and emotional security.
So man’s proneness to engage in war is still a fact. But wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminated even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good. If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war. In a day when vehicles hurtle through outer space and guided ballistic missiles carve highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can claim victory in war. A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering, political turmoil, and spiritual disillusionment. A world war – God forbid! – will leave only smoldering ashes as a mute testimony of a human race whose folly led inexorably to ultimate death. So if modern man continues to flirt unhesitatingly with war, he will transform his earthly habitat into an inferno such as even the mind of Dante could not imagine.
Therefore, I venture to suggest to all of you and all who hear and may eventually read these words, that the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence become immediately a subject for study and for serious experimentation in every field of human conflict, by no means excluding the relations between nations. It is, after all, nation-states which make war, which have produced the weapons which threaten the survival of mankind, and which are both genocidal and suicidal in character.
(I)t is as imperative and urgent to put an end to war and violence between nations as it is to put an end to racial injustice. Equality with whites will hardly solve the problems of either whites or Negroes if it means equality in a society under the spell of terror and a world doomed to extinction.
We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love I do not wish to minimize the complexity of the problems that need to be faced in achieving disarmament and peace. But I think it is a fact that we shall not have the will, the courage, and the insight to deal with such matters unless in this field we are prepared to undergo a mental and spiritual reevaluation – a change of focus which will enable us to see that the things which seem most real and powerful are indeed now unreal and have come under the sentence of death. We need to make a supreme effort to generate the readiness, indeed the eagerness, to enter into the new world which is now possible, “the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”18.
We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace…
So we must fix our vision not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but upon the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win to a positive contest to harness man’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a “peace race”. If we have the will and determination to mount such a peace offensive, we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope and transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment…
We have inherited a big house, a great “world house” in which we have to live together – black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.
This means that more and more our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. We must now give an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in our individual societies.
This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response which is little more than emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the First Epistle of Saint John19:
Let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone
that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His
love is perfected in us.
(Dr. King delivered this lecture in the Auditorium of the University of Oslo. This text is taken from Les Prix Nobel en 1964. The text in the New York Times is excerpted. His speech of acceptance delivered the day before in the same place is reported fully both in Les Prix Nobel en 1964 and the New York Times) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/listen-to-mlks-1964-nobel-prize-lecture
Facing violent dogs, billy clubs in the hands of men on fire with anger who also had hands on guns Dr. King and his followers demonstrated living that vision of love in action and changed America. The change remains in motion and the call to courage today must be awake in our hearts for the struggle is not close to over.
Our love must be brought into actions that are effective. That is why treaties, law, values, vision, organizing, speaking out, demonstrating, and supporting the many devotees to peace will not allow us to hesitate, bicker, or sit still. This is a time in which the very foundations of social sanity – reason, debate, respect, civility, and thus peace – are at risk as never before. Yes, we must reinforce the commitments of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty but we are seeing the very institution of treaties under threat. Have no doubt, today your passion, your voice, your commitment is what will make the difference.
May we have the courage to allow the blessing that has brought us here, the blessing that we know: there is a seed that contains a mystery of world peace wanting to be born. We know that the love that we share amongst ourselves is the water that will grow that seed. We know that the love that we have for the creation brings us to a sense of awe. We know that if we dedicate ourselves to selfless service and bring our pure sentiments into action that the universe will conspire to make ways even for that seed to break through the concrete of this modern world, that as those flowers sprout, the concrete will break more and more. Thus we will learn a new technology, not the technology that is melting the polar icecaps, but the technology that can melt the human heart.
May we receive that blessing that can melt our hearts and melt the hearts of others.In that learning a world without nuclear weapons will also be found. Thank you.