Today is a cause for remembrance and reflection on peace in our country. On January 31, 1950–63 years ago today–President Truman announced his intention to support the creation of a hydrogen bomb, which is speculated to be hundreds of times more powerful than the nuclear bombs that had been dropped on Japan only 5 years earlier. This was of course in the midst of the Cold War, a difficult time for political leaders as they entered a new era of warfare that had never been seen before.
However, when I was staying in Los Angeles last summer, I traveled with a group to Vandenburg Airforce Base. Before we went, the Catholic Worker we stayed at told us the sad story of the Marshall Islands. The islands were largely land for indigenous peoples and were considered a religious place for them. Despite this, the first US hydrogen bomb was detonated off the coast of one of the islands, sent out over the pristine ocean considered by the indigenous people to be a portal to the afterlife.
I don’t wish to make people angry toward the United States by stating these facts; we live in a country that has done many good and bad things. However, I do wish to reflect on the feeling that having such a powerful weapon is necessary in our country. Why is it necessary to have something that could kill so many people, that completely wiped out two islands from the face of the earth ?
The government has now paid over $759 million to the Marshall Islands for the destruction 67 nuclear detonations and 1 hydrogen detonation caused the islands. Yes, the Marshall Islands are part of U.S. territory, but should the government really have exploited the islanders to such an extent after giving them so much aid to survive, and when they were obviously vulnerable?
Peace and non-violence to me means confronting these exact issues and asking the hard question of why our country let this happen. Peace is not about being angry at past events either, it is recognizing in ourselves that we need to be more non-violent to one another on a basic human level. If this could happen, the world would be at peace, we would all be in perfect solidarity, and we’d live in a world in which no one would want to create such powerful weapons.
Yes, it is hard to see an end result in sight, but it is more helpful to us to think of peace in this way: “One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
For more information, visit: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/truman-announces-development-of-h-bomb
CCSJ Student Coordinator
Class of 2013
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