By Rev. John Dear, SJ
Los Alamos sits above the second poorest county in the U.S. and is located in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the country. The land was originally stolen from indigenous peoples by the U.S. government. Radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory was routinely dumped into the canyons below and has poisoned the water, the land, the animals, and the indigenous people. Annually, Los Alamos Labs spends $2 billion for the sole purpose of preparing the weapons that have the potential to kill millions of people. That’s why I call Los Alamos “the world’s greatest terrorist training camp.”
The citizens of New Mexico look away from the evil created and supported at Los Alamos because we are taught to. The Labs pay huge amounts to a PR firm so it can brainwash the people into thinking that the creation of nuclear weapons is actually helping the people of New Mexico. Likewise, the U.S. government brainwashes Americans to believe in the theory of nuclear deterrence in order to justify the use of billions of taxpayers’ dollars for weapons of mass destruction. In reality, American tax dollars are paying Los Alamos to prepare for global genocide.
It’s all a big lie. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate evil. They do not make anyone safe, they do not protect the earth, they do not promote the common good, and they do not ensure our health or help create global peace. These weapons really only serve to further enrich the one percent while putting us all in danger. For these reasons and so many more, nuclear weapons need to be abolished right now.
An Absolute Stance Against Nuclear Weapons
In order to ban these weapons, we need to become people who are not afraid to wake up, to become aware, to be mindful, to be nonviolent, and to be alert to what has happened and what continues to happen. We do not need to give in to the collective insanity of having or creating more nuclear weapons.
On August 9, hundreds of us drove up the mountain of Los Alamos to vigil for peace and sit in quiet meditation to grieve over our collective insanity, show universal love and compassion for all humanity, call for nuclear disarmament, and build up the global grassroots movement of nonviolence. We need to take up Gandhi and King’s vision of nonviolence and plumb the depths of nonviolence as the only antidote to our global predicament.
PeaceWorker Editor Peter Bergel protesting nuclear
weapons at Los Alamos earlier this month
Nonviolence is a way of life, a spiritual practice, but also an effective method for creating social change. It renounces violence and works aggressively for justice and the coming of a new world of peace. And it has a bottom-line truth: there is no cause, however noble, for which we will ever again support the taking of a single human life. No cause whatsoever. We refuse to kill or to support the killing of anyone. We will not be sorry that the days of killing and nuclear weapons are coming to an end.
So at Los Alamos this year, we prepared for a new world without nuclear weapons. We claimed our fundamental dignity as peaceful human beings, and in the process, showed the world what people look like who possess that. As we sat in at Los Alamos, we stood up for nuclear disarmament, which means we dared to explore the spiritual depths of inner disarmament. We are trying to become people worthy of a world free of nuclear weapons. That’s what the spiritual life of nonviolence calls us to.
Grassroots Movement for Global Nonviolence
As we went to Los Alamos, we remembered that social change has only come about historically through bottom-up grassroots movements, such as the Abolitionists, the Suffragists, the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam war movement.
This grassroots movement, this new world of nonviolence, is totally achievable. We need billions of people to join this global movement of nonviolence, and to keep at the practice of peacemaking. That means we all need to talk about nuclear weapons and the need to abolish them; to study and teach nonviolence; to connect the dots between the issues of violence (from poverty and racism to war and environmental destruction); and to support the global grassroots movement of nonviolence. [Emphasis added]
On August 7-8, hundreds of us gathered in Santa Fe for the Campaign Nonviolence National Conference. Last year, we organized 250 demonstrations across the US in all 50 states in September; and we’re going to do it again this year, the week of Sept. 20. We already have 150 demonstrations planned, in all 50 states. We are calling people to take to the streets and march against every variation of violence — from U.S. war making, to poverty at home and abroad, to racism, police brutality and mass incarceration, to nuclear weapons and environmental destruction – and for Dr. King’s vision of a new culture of nonviolence.
Perhaps then we can create a new climate for disarmament and justice and ensure that people are never vaporized again. To succeed, we must prove worthy of a new world of peace and become people of loving nonviolence.Φ
John Dear, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is an American Catholic priest nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also a Christian pacifist, an author, and lecturer. He has been arrested more than 75 times in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against war, injustice, and nuclear weapons.