Huffpost Green
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Steven Crandell Headshot

One Person Can Make a Difference -- 83 Year-Old Peace Activist

Posted: Updated:

When we think about global issues like peace, climate change and hunger, sometimes it's easy to feel intimidated by the enormity of the task.

You know the chorus of futility: What can one person do? Why would the president listen to me? It's the way of the world. Nothing can be done.

Ah, but something can be done. And sometimes it takes an 83 year-old woman to show the way.

Wilma Whitehurst used to teach children with learning disabilities. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband and still gives piano lessons to friends for free. Because her husband worked nights when her children were young, she encouraged interesting stories before bed with plenty of discussion. She encouraged her kids to express how they felt.

"I believe in everyone finding out who they are and what they do best and loving themselves," she told me the other day. "That's how you teach peace."

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has launched a national Appeal to get one million people to send a message to the next president. That message is simple: the US should take the lead in working with other countries for a safer world, free of nuclear weapons. You can sign on here.

When Wilma heard about the US Leadership Appeal, she didn't make excuses. She made tracks. Straight to her neighbors.

"Why would we need nuclear weapons? That's barbaric... Destruction and hate. They say you're afraid of someone. Who are you afraid of?"

In a few short days, she became the Foundation's most prolific gatherer of signatures in Santa Barbara, filling up page after page with names of locals who support a world free of nuclear weapons.

Wilma is an inspiration.

The world cannot reform itself. We, as individuals, must first decide that the reform is worth it, and then start, as Gandhi said, by being the change we want to see in the world.

Wilma reminded me that nuclear weapons, for all their technological sophistication, are simple to evaluate. They are designed to kill innocent civilians and destroy cities. They threaten the peace we all need to raise our families, practice our faiths and run our businesses.

Some things are just plain wrong.

Others are just plain right.

"Peace," says Wilma. "There isn't any other way to care for each other ...We have different ideas and we look different, but we all have the same heart."

If you would like to gather signatures -- like Wilma -- to help the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation send a million-person message for a nuclear weapons-free world to the next president of the United States, please click here to send me an email. I will make sure you get all the background materials you need as well as the petition.

Then you can be a person who is making a difference for peace, too.

From Our Partners