If there is any sanity in the world, it has come from the Nobel Peace Prize of 2017, which was awarded to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. They received the award for the work they have done on the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. According to the ICAN site, the agreement was adopted July 2017 and is backed by 122 nations. If signing the Treaty, a nation must agree to refrain from the following:
“[. . .] developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. [. . .] A nation that possesses nuclear weapons may join the treaty, so long as it agrees to destroy them in accordance with a legally binding, time-bound plan.” A nation cannot encourage or support another nation to hold them either.
This is explicit, clear, and a relief. Included in the agreement is the acknowledgement that a disproportionate amount of harm from nuclear weapons impacts women and girls and indigenous persons.
I have written about this before, but bombs of this sort have been used in attack twice, both on Japan and both from the hand of the U.S. When the bombs were dropped in Japanese cities, the cities are recorded to have transformed into hellish realms of the living dead, the innocent and harmed left without medical assistance for days. Testing has occurred at over 2,000 times on our earth, 50% of those tests not from North Korea, but the parental father figure of the U.S. Oh, Daddy War-bucks. Tuck us in with your uranium blanket, and keep us well. Or not.
According to the ICAN site, the U.S. increased its spending from 55.6 billion in 2010 to 61.3 billion in 2011 on nuclear issues. I bet you can guess who didn’t sign the Treaty.
But first, let’s understand who did. There is a difference between countries who participated in negotiation and voted to pass it and those who have already signed. Those in support who have voted but not yet signed include Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the UAE, among others. Those who signed include Vietnam, South Africa, Palestine, Nepal, Mexico, Libya, Ireland, Brazil, Bangladesh, Algeria, Austria, and Ghana, among others. As one can see, there is great support, perhaps from unexpected places, from all over the world.
One statement I saw over and over again in the nations who refused to participate and voted against the resolution was this: “It claims that US nuclear weapons are essential for its security.” The U.S. can inspire such grand ethical decisions.
It’s time to declare the U.S. was absent from this peace-making activity. The U.S. possesses 6,800 nuclear weapons, and it seems we’re not letting go. Furthermore, apparently “It [the U.S.] has said that it intends never to join the treaty.” Good to be firm.
Why do we love our nukes so dearly— perhaps just the threat of what we can do if we really wanted? Obviously, we are aware of what makes for good relationships and creates an environment of peace: Let’s spit on vulnerability and always have a strategy to take the other down if pressed. Hand over that radioactive ring, sir. It looks good on our blistering fingers.
But fear doesn’t result in real love. Parental benefactor “love” with a stash of destructive weapons in the basement sounds like a recipe for an abusive, volatile relationship where peace cannot exist. Why can’t we be a real leader, be the bigger person and take the risk that is necessary for peace? If we are so willing to potentially destroy life to “keep the peace,” why don’t we become peace, even if others choose to destroy us? Shouldn’t we truly protect others and be willing to sacrifice ourselves if it comes down to it? Won’t that inspire something holy? Isn’t the virtue that we teach our children that it doesn’t matter what others do, that we need to honor who we are by behaving the way we know is harmless and kind? “He has a gun, so I need one too; if he punches me, I’ll punch him back harder”: indeed, it sounds as if humanity is still in adolescence.
The Dhammapada teaches, “For never does hatred cease by hatred at any time. Hatred ceases by love. This is an eternal law.” Love is not filled with threat of attack or retaliation, a spanning of our feathers to insist on our dominance and sexual prowess. Love is intimate, it is conversations, and it is shelving our egos. A real leader does not sit on a throne in a big white house, but de-thrones himself and actually leads, meaning he behaves in a way that others would do well at imitating. Because we all can’t live in a big white house. That’s a big white lie.
I am ashamed that the U.S. snubbed its nose when there are 122 other nations that have either signed or voted to sign the Peace Treaty of no Nuclear Weapons. What a tremendous vote that was for the Status Quo, for keeping limbs with a grubby, spiked band-aid that is neither on or off, but hanging by bloody flesh and hairs while we continue to terrorize the school-yard. We should follow the ethical decisions these 122 nations have made. But the U.S. just keeps making statements.
Well, I CAN too, United States of America:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
To this, I kneel.
LaChelle Schilling, Ph.D., graduated in 2014 from the Women and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches composition from a contemplative pedagogical approach at Oklahoma State University. Currently, she is working on a book project titled Minimalism, Mindfulness, and the Middle Way, incorporating guidance from sacred wisdom literatures. She is also working on certification as a yoga instructor.