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Nuclear Proliferation: A Mother's Legacy

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The Cold War Distorted The World's Capacity To Work Together

Change is a constant. Sometimes the world changes imperceptibly, slowly, and sometimes it can come in a flash. The world is now poised for changes for the better. But let us never forget that the danger that sits over our head arrived in a flash. At precisely 5:30 AM on the 16th of July 1945 in a place in the desert of New Mexico, named Journey of the Dead Man or Jornada del Muerto, that flash of the Trinity Test, caused Dr. Robert Oppenheimer to recite the famous verse from the Bhagavad-Gita, "I am death, the shatterer of worlds." The world changed on that day. The extent of that change was demonstrated shortly thereafter in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It should not surprise us then that the first resolution of the General Assembly on January 24, 1946, called for creating a Commission designed to help obtain the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.

The Cold War distorted the world's capacity to work together to accomplish this goal. I am not an expert in politics, treaties, or international law, but I like to think I am an expert in being a caring mother. There are several billion other such experts throughout the world, and I believe I speak in unison with their hearts as well, when I say, The Cold War is over. Let's not pass on the legacy of these horrific devices to our children. It is time we really changed and began working together on real common purposes. If for no other reason, let's do it for our kids! Cooperation with one another is no longer an option; Cooperation amongst nations is no longer an option. Cooperation with nature is no longer an option. These are all necessities.

Does anyone think their country should rule the world and make everyone live like them? Does anyone think that the rules of the sand box where we learned to share can be tossed aside when it comes to international relations? Nature, Mother Nature, also has her rules; we must quickly learn to live by them. Can we protect the oceans, the rainforests, or the climate without real global cooperation? How about a sense of reality and humility once in a while? Where is our sense of human security? With half the human family living on less than two dollars per day, and the Millennium Development Goals so easily met with a mere fraction of what is spent on militaries, can we fulfill our basic sense of compassion and justice without a new spirit of cooperation? Have we not recently seen that the metrics of unbridled selfishness lead to the folly of loneliness and spiritual poverty? The economic crisis has shown us that if we worship our unending appetites of greed our system will itself fail. We simply must establish some sense of balance and proportion. A new sense of cooperation amongst all peoples of all races and religions is a new necessity if we are to live with any sense of human values.

Can we rid the world of nuclear weapons without cooperation? And here we need A CHANGE... akin to the flash of the beginning of the nuclear age. We need a wake-up call as clear as the first explosion itself. It is for us here to assert that call.

Would it have been correct to say, "Let's treat the slaves better and that will bring stability and justice." People did say that and they were wrong. Can we rid ourselves of the threat posed by nuclear weapons by saying they can be held responsibly, reliably and I dare quote our military planners by saying safely by some and not others? Can we prevent their spread while we rely upon them? Can you convince your children not to smoke while puffing on a cigar? The whole world is actually relying on the security of each of the weakest links in the security chain. All are all downwind should any make a fatal miscalculation, be subject to a computer error, or simply be subject to human fallibility. I do not have a great deal of confidence in the situations in South Asia or the Middle East when I remember that the summer before last a half dozen US nuclear weapons were unaccounted for an entire afternoon!

Nuclear weapons are more of a problem than any problem they seek to solve. They cannot be used against non nuclear weapons states, what could be more outrageous? They cannot be used against nuclear armed states, that would be suicidal. They have no value against terrorists. The Berlin wall came down, the wall of apartheid came down. It is time to tear down the wall of nuclear apartheid.

On April 5, 2009, in Prague, President Obama stated in no uncertain terms that the United States is committed to a nuclear weapons free world. He stated that "moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon." I agree and we are not alone...The Secretary General of the United Nations set forth a bold agenda to help us get there on UN Day October 24, 2008, and we believed the United Nations when in 2000 at the Review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, they made an unequivocal undertaking to obtain the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Now is the time to be bold. No one could have imagined a year ago that the presidents of Russia and U.S. would openly state together that they intend to work to achieve a nuclear weapons free world, but they did. Now is the time to work without cynicism, doubt, or fear. I want to tell my children that I met the men and woman who worked to free us all from the terror of nuclear weapons, the men and woman who decided to change history and save history. Yes we know the hurdles are enormous, but we also know that with passion, intelligence, moral conviction, not to mention several billion passionate Mothers... greatness is possible. I join the United Nations in affirming with three simple words we need to hold dear to succeed. "Yes we can. May Peace be with you!