"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trinity to Trident: Taking The Peaceful Road


I checked on the progress of the Trinity to Trident Interfaith Peace Walk that began in New Mexico and will end at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Washington on August 8. The walkers were at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a place where scientists have designed nuclear weapons since 1952. It was at Lawrence Livermore where the first megaton-class warhead was designed for use with submarine-launched missiles, and Livermore also developed the first compact, high yield warheads for use on multiple independent targetable reentry vehicles that made the first-strike weapon, Trident, possible.

As a small group of Peace Walkers stood outside the gates of the Lab calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, thousands of employees were on the job, that job being to ensure that the nuclear weapons stockpiled and deployed by the United States will do the job for which they are intended (should they ever have to be used) - incinerating hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of fellow human beings. Granted, they are just doing their jobs, but they are jobs they have chosen. This is no gulag.

If you could engage in a dialogue with Lab employees, many would probably tell you that they believe they are helping to keep peace, that the U.S. needs its nuclear "deterrent", that it keeps us safe. All these arguments aside, I found myself considering the Hippocratic Oath, that oath taken by physicians swearing to do no harm. The oath assumes a respect for all human life. As I contemplated the Oath, I found myself asking why physicians should be the only ones honoring such an oath.

Should not everyone engaged in any job or profession in which one might affect others, whether it be producing a product or providing a service, swear to some form of oath promising to DO NO HARM? This could range from producing toys coated with lead-based paint to manufacturing weapons. If our families, our schools and our churches, synagogues and temples all lived and taught such an overriding value as DO NO HARM, perhaps our young people would have an easier decision when it comes to career choice. DO NO HARM would become an intrinsic societal value.

The question of whether to work in the nuclear weapons complex would be an easy one to answer. In the immortal words of Nancy Reagan, "Just Say No!" And so the gentle, nonviolent Interfaith Peace Walkers say NO to violence, and especially to the ultimate violent force threatening the world - nuclear weapons. Their message to those inside the fence at the weapons laboratory is to stop building and maintaining nuclear weapons and to start working to abolish them. It is a complex process, but has to start now, and what better group of people to help get there but the very people who have developed them.
The collective, creative, scientific and intellectual abilities contained behind the fence at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories is huge. Just think of what these people could do if channeled in a different direction - DO NO HARM!



Photo Credit: Photo of Peace Walkers at the gate to Lawrence Livermore is from the
Trinity to Trident Interfaith Peace Walk blog.
I took the other photo in 2006 at Sub Base Bangor during a vigil and direct action by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

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