Greetings Dear Friends of Ground Zero Center,
It is the morning after (election day), and I am trying hard to wrap my aching head around this mess. As I consider the meaning (or lack thereof) of this presidential election, I look at the big picture and find myself reflecting on Cindy Sheehan’s comment that this election has been about “re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Throughout President Obama’s presidency, I had no illusions that his famous Prague speech would translate into a miraculous change of course for our nation’s nuclear weapons policy (or military policy in general). He has, throughout his presidency, caved in to the Military-Industrial Complex and bought into the concept of American Exceptionalism that drives our foreign policy. As Obama bragged in a recent interview with HBO’s Bill Maher, “As flawed as our foreign policy can be, and whatever blind spots we have, we really are the indispensable nation.” Such hubris (after nearly eight years)!
And so the ship of state (of the American Empire) continues on its disastrous course; although it has survived the glancing blows of smaller icebergs (think of the many wars of recent years), it is only a question of when it will hit the big one (even as the captain declares that the ship is unsinkable). Should nuclear weapons be involved, which becomes more likely as the US stimulates nuclear proliferation around the world, it will not just be a single ship that will sink.
The U.S. nuclear arsenal will soon be under the control President-elect Trump, who has shown a complete lack of understanding of the gravity of nuclear weapons. Should push come to (nuclear) shove, President Trump will be the person with the ultimate control over the fate of humanity. For all the talk of our democracy this election season, it is hard to see how people are not aghast at the undemocratic nature of one person having total authority over the launching of nuclear weapons. Of course the only reasonable solution is to do away with nuclear weapons altogether so as to preclude such an awesome (and insane) responsibility.
Our task then, moving forward, is to continue to Educate, Agitate and Organize! We must be strategic, and ask the right questions to develop the most effective strategies and tactics. Above all, we are going to have to develop a massive movement not seen since the 1980s. All this, of course, is with the intention of Making America Sane Again (I had to get that one in!). This is the time for PEACE (and particularly anti-nuclear) organizations to come together as never before.
Fortunately, most of the rest of the world (123 nations that voted for a nuclear weapons ban to be exact) is of sound mind and wishes to move forward toward a nuclear weapon-free world. And eradicating nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth is certainly the most critical task ahead for humanity. Future generations are depending on the work we do now. With that in mind, here is a brief recap of the historic UN vote, as well as the latest on Ground Zero Center and our partners in building a better world:
The historic UN vote on a global ban
In late October the United Nations, in a truly historic vote, moved closer to establishing a legally binding instrument to prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. The United States shamelessly lobbied and pressured other nations to vote against the resolution. The General Assembly will take a final vote on this in December, and the resolution will set up a UN conference beginning in March 2017, open to all member states, to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. The non nuclear-armed nations are leading the way, and will continue to lead the nuclear-armed nations (kicking and screaming) to fulfill their moral and legal obligations toward a nuclear weapon-free world. As citizens of one of the leading opponents to the global ban, it will be up to us to speak up and out with a unified voice to challenge our government’s archaic (and dangerous) nuclear posture.
To learn more about the movement toward a global ban, check out the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Unfold Zero, a platform for United Nations (UN) focused initiatives and actions for the achievement of a nuclear weapons free world, is another source for information and engagement. Click here to learn more.
My interview on KSVR
Ginny Wolff, of Speak Up, Speak Out! on KSVR-FM, interviewed me last week about the work of Ground Zero Center for Non-Violent Action since the 1970s protesting the Trident submarines based at the Bangor Naval Base in Silverdale, Washington. We discussed the history of Ground Zero, the bigger picture of U.S. foreign policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons, ongoing international tension, and the agreement between Congress and the Obama administration to spend a trillion dollars over 30 years to rebuild the entire U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons. The interview ends with a simple message listeners can deliver to President Obama.
Click here to listen to the interview. After listening, click here to send your message to President Obama. You can find many more current action alerts at the right hand column (top of the page) at The Nuclear Abolitionist.
Command and Control
On November 28th there will be a free showing of Tribeca Film Festival sensation Command and Control at the Guild 45th Theatre, Seattle at 6:30PM. Produced by American Experience Films | PBS, Command and Control chronicles the long-hidden story of a deadly accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980. Based on the critically-acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, the chilling new documentary exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us. The screening will be followed by a conversation with special guests Eric Schlosser, Writer and Producer of Command and Control, and Joe Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and nuclear policy expert. Click here to watch the trailer. The event is sponsored by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ploughshares Fund, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and Global Zero at University of Washington.
Admission is FREE but the hosts request that you RSVP/Register here.
GZ Annual Meeting
The annual Ground Zero membership meeting is when we decide the future of Ground Zero. It is a time for reflection and renewal, and for new proposals for peace and justice. Please consider serving on a committee or on one of the positions listed below. Join us on Sunday, November 13, 2015 at the Ground Zero Center. Potluck at noon. Meeting begins promptly at 1 pm, to 5 pm.
All positions on the Stewardship Council, including Secretary, Treasurer, Chairperson and committee positions will be chosen or renewed at the annual meeting for the next year. Committees include house and grounds, communication/outreach, website, leafleting, finance/budget, and media. There is currently one ad hoc committee–for the construction of the Peace Pagoda at Ground Zero. There are also several “at large” positions on the Council.
The purpose of the Stewardship Council and committee positions is to divide the responsibilities and work of Ground Zero into manageable sections. We all help one another in the process. The Council meets once a month, alternating monthly between meetings in Seattle, Tacoma and at Ground Zero. All meetings are open to all members.
If you have questions, and are interested in getting involved, send an email to email@example.com.
Armistice Day – VFP
Veterans For Peace (VFP) Seattle Chapter will renew and honor the original intent of Armistice Day, now called Veterans Day, with a ringing of bells at St James Cathedral, Seattle on November 11th at 11:00am.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, the guns finally fell silent on the Western Front, ending the slaughter that took the lives of seventeen million people. In November 1919 President Wilson signed a proclamation commemorating the end of the war which stated “…the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride for those who died in the country’s service…” In 1926 the US Congress passed a resolution stating “it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations…” Over the years, Armistice Day changed from a day dedicated to celebrating world peace to honoring the military and its personnel, ending up as parades and ceremonies glorifying war.
You cannot honor veterans without talking about war and peace. We have now been engaged in a twenty five year war in the mid east that has taken the lives of over 250,000 people, mostly civilians, including over eight thousand Americans. Veterans for Peace Statement of Purpose states that we “seek justice for veterans and victims of war” and seek to “abolish war as an instrument of national policy”. To that end VFP calls for a cease fire and negotiations to start the process of ending these wars.
This Armistice Day Veterans For Peace will join with others at November 11th, 10:30 AM, on the south side of St James Cathedral, 804 Ninth Ave Seattle (first Hill) for a ceremony that will include a short statement on Armistice Day, the ringing of the bells, a moment of silence, and some songs commemorating the spirit of the day.
Free Range Films
Free Range Films presents the award winning documentary “The Brainwashing of my Dad” on Friday, November 11 at 7pm. The film will be shown at the Suquamish United Church of Christ at 18732 Division Ave. in Suquamish. Click here for more information.
The future, and how we all have a stake (and a role) in it…
Humanity has awakened each day since the beginning of the nuclear age to a reprieve; the nuclear weapons that have been amassed and readied for use could have been let loose in a massive conflagration any number of times over the years. Along the way (at various critical times) the citizens of the world have awakened from our nuclear stupor to protest vigorously and say NO to nuclear weapons. We have now reached a point of new awakening, as a global consensus is being reached, and people are beginning (once again) to come together to say NOW is the time to rid the world of the nuclear menace.
The US has continued, for over 70 years, to lead in the wrong direction. The deeply entrenched colonial and hegemonic powers that have created the most powerful military in the world, along with the nuclear weapons with which we hold the world hostage, must be reigned in, controlled and re-imagined. A new paradigm of (as Dennis Kucinich called it) “Strength Through Peace” must become the norm. Without such a shift, nuclear weapons will continue to be worshipped by the powers that rely on them as instruments of foreign policy.
The images of massive militarized police presence (and use of force) at Standing Rock in response to the peaceful protests of the native people (who were here long before the invasion of their lands) is telling and, if we are listening with our hearts and minds, instructive of how our destructive ways continue to inflict harm on our planet and its peoples (and how we must change).
At Ground Zero, we continue to study and practice nonviolence rooted in the power of love. As our website describes it:
Our actions cause a chain reaction that emanates out from us in every moment. When we focus on love, compassion, kindness, peaceful understanding and social justice, what we say and what we don’t say, what we do and don’t do, affects our part of the world in ways we may never know. While few of us have the power as individuals to create global peace, one by one, collectively embodying nonviolence as a way of life, each of us can help move the world a little closer in that direction.
May that power of love, kindness and peaceful understanding overcome the forces of hatred, fear and greed that drive people farther apart. And may it lead the way to a better world. Join us on this journey; it is certainly a worthy one.
Toward a nonviolent, peaceful world with justice for all,
Leonard, for all of us at Ground Zero