What Nuclear Weapons Teach Us About Ourselves

In the prior post I described how excited David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, was about Barack Obama’s promises to significantly reduce the threat nuclear weapons pose to the world. I then did an update showing that President Obama had fallen short of meeting those promises on which I had sufficient information to comment. On May 24, 2011, Krieger did a piece for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, in which he placed the blame for the complacency about nuclear weapons on “most humans on the planet.” I thought that replicating his short article would be a good companion piece for the last published blog.

“Nuclear weapons are the most fearsome and destructive killing devices yet created by the human species. They have the capacity to destroy cities, countries and civilization. Yet, although these weapons give rise to some concern and worry, most humans on the planet are complacent about the inherent dangers of these weapons. It is worth exploring what our seeming indifference toward these weapons of mass annihilation teaches us about ourselves, and how we might remedy our malaise.

1. We are ill-informed. We appear to go about our daily lives with a self-assured degree of comfort that we will not be affected by the dangers of the weapons. We need more education about the extreme dangers and risks posed by nuclear weapons.

2. We are tribal. We divide ourselves into national tribes and identify with our own tribe while demonizing ‘the other.’ We need to be more global in our thinking. We need to think as members of the human species, not as members of a national tribe.

3. We are self-serving. We see our own nuclear weapons and those of our allies as being positive and useful, while we view the nuclear weapons of our enemies as being negative and harmful. We need to realize that nuclear weapons, as instruments of indiscriminate mass destruction, are illegal, immoral and dangerous in any hands, including our own.

4. We are arrogant. We seem to take perverse pride in our cleverness at having such overwhelmingly powerful weapons. We need to take pride in constructive uses of our science-based technologies, and recognize the inherent dangers and immorality of their destructive uses.

5. We are pathological. We rely for our protection upon these weapons that threaten to kill millions of innocent civilians. We need to realize that true security cannot be based upon the threat of mass murder of innocents.

6. We are deluded. We believe that we will not survive threats from ‘the other’ if we do not rely upon these weapons of mass annihilation for our society. We need to engage ‘the other’ in dialogue until we realize that our common humanity supersedes our differences, and our common future demands our unity.

7. We are reckless. We are willing to bet the human species and the human future that we can keep these weapons under control. We need to stop playing Russian roulette with the human future.

8. We are foolish. We trust our leaders to act responsibly, so as to keep nuclear weapons under control. We need to realize that this is too great a responsibility for any person and that all leaders do not act responsibly at all times.”



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