When I was a little girl I used to end all my nightly prayers with the words, “And please no nuclear war, and peace on earth. Amen.” This was in the early eighties. The knowledge that weapons existed armed and ready which could annihilate all life on earth, including my Mum and my Dad and everyone I loved, kept me up at night.
I still marvel at the fact that these weapons exist, just as armed and just as ready, and we just go about our lives like it’s perfectly normal. They’re even more prone to malfunction than they were back then, because so many parts of the system are much older now. All it would take is something failing to work the way it’s meant to or somebody making a mistake or miscommunication that hadn’t been adequately anticipated and prepared for, and it could set into motion a chain of events from which there is no coming back. We’ve already come within a hair’s breadth of nuclear annihilation on more than one occasion due to such occurrances, and yet people still act like preventing that from ever happening isn’t the single most important priority for our entire species.
In the days leading up to the Helsinki summit between leaders of Russia and the United States, an open letter titled “Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security” was published and signed by experts, activists and scholars ranging from Noam Chomsky to Gloria Steinem to Daniel Ellsberg to Michael Moore. Part of the letter reads as follows:
“At the same time, the US and Russian governments show numerous signs of being on a collision course. Diplomacy has given way to hostility and reciprocal consular expulsions, along with dozens of near-miss military encounters in Syria and in skies above Europe. Both sides are plunging ahead with major new weapons-development programs.
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