It’s 2 Minutes to Midnight: The Clock is Ticking!

Do you want to live with the threat of nuclear war?

I would guess that most people would answer with a rousing “NO!” And yet, humanity has been living under the threat of nuclear annihilation for most of the decades following World War II during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Even now, nearly three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and Russia still stand poised to destroy each other’s nations (many times over), and take the rest of the world with them.

What’s more, the two Superpowers, through their mad pursuit of nuclear weapons and the rampant militarism associated with that race, led the way to the proliferation of nuclear weapons that has further increased the risk of nuclear war and the end of civilization. India and Pakistan are at each others figurative throats, each having amassed considerable nuclear arsenals. And now, there is a huge focus on (and fear of) a nuclear-armed North Korea. Where will all this end?

Earlier today the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to global catastrophe – two minutes to midnight – the closest the Doomsday Clock has ever been to the “destruction of civilization.” The hands of the Clock were set at two minutes to midnight only once before – in 1953 after the U.S. tested its first thermonuclear device and the Soviets followed with their own H-bomb test.

Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has used the Doomsday Clock to symbolically indicate how close humankind currently is to “the end of the world,” represented by midnight. To set the clock, the Bulletin factors in the threats of nuclear war, climate change, and (most recently) artificial intelligence run amok. 

The opening paragraph of today’s announcement, addressed to “leaders and citizens of the world,” says: “In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II.”

When the clock was set a half-minute closer to midnight just one year ago, we were warned: “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.” Our “public officials” have not only failed to lead humanity away from the brink; their lack of wisdom has led us further toward that dangerous precipice. It is absolutely time for “wise citizens” to step up and demand action.

In 1991, thanks to the end of the Cold War and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the hands of the Clock were set back to 17 minutes to midnight, providing a huge sigh of relief. Since then, all but one announcement have resulted in the hands inching ever closer to midnight.

How much closer to midnight do we have to come before we accept the urgency of our situation – that we must remove the threat of nuclear weapons before the clock, and humanity’s luck, run out of time?

Even the most limited use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic global consequences. The horrific loss of human life; the long-term effects on the environment, climate, and human health; and the destabilization of the global economy and international relations are difficult to imagine. Nuclear war would mean the end of civilization as we know it. Prevention is the only reasonable choice!

There is only one way to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again – eliminate them worldwide. It is up to the United States, the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons, and the nation that led the world to this moment, to lead the way. And that work needs to begin with a paradigm shift and the initiation of a sincere dialogue with Russia.

What can (and should) we, as “wise citizens” do to lead the way to help move humanity back from the brink? Here are a few steps each of us can take (for starters):

  • Support, and get directly involved with, at least one organization directly working on nuclear abolition.
  • Senator Ed Markey, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament has introduced legislation into the Senate (with companion legislation in the House introduced by Ted Lieu) to restrict the authority of the U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack without first consulting congress. Call on your members of Congress to support this legislation.
  • Tell Congress: Detente, not Escalation with Russia!
  • Urge your members of Congress to call for direct diplomacy (without preconditions) with North Korea, and against further threats of war.
  • You can also support legislation that reduces the risk of war with North Korea. Call your Representative and urge her/him to cosponsor HR 4837, the “No Unconstitutional First strike on North Korea Act.” Click here for a directory of U.S. Representatives. You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121
  • Call on the United States to attend the UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament (coming up in May 2018) at the highest level and to make sincere efforts at the conference to reduce nuclear risks and advance the abolition of nuclear weapons. Click here to find your members of Congress.
  • Introduce the Back from the Brink resolution at your professional association, faith community, civic group, educational institution, town hall or municipality. Click here to download the text of Back from the Brink:A Call to Prevent Nuclear War and see a list of endorsing organizations.

Historian Lawrence Wittner, in his book Confronting the Bomb, says that it is not the conventional explanation of “deterrence” that has saved the world from nuclear annihilation over the past 72 years, but a “massive nuclear disarmament movement.” Wittner documents how real, grassroots citizen activism brought very real pressure to bear, not only only on the U.S. government, but many other governments as well, to control the arms race and prevent nuclear war.

The question now is whether we can revitalize that citizen-led movement and create a groundswell that no nation, particularly those with nuclear weapons, can ignore. Here’s to that hope!

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***Click here to read the full 2018 Doomsday Clock Announcement.***

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MLK: Way Beyond Vietnam

Editor’s Note: Although this essay is a tribute to the life of a great prophet, it is even more a call to action. I invite each of you reading this to dedicate or rededicate yourself to Dr. King’s vision articulated in his essay, The World House, in which calls on us to “1) transcend tribe, race, class, nation, and religion to embrace the vision of a World House; 2) eradicate at home and globally the Triple Evils of racism, poverty, and militarism; 3) curb excessive materialism and shift from a “thing”-oriented society to a “people”-oriented society; and 4) resist social injustice and resolve conflicts in the spirit of love embodied in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.” 

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As we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., we would do well to contemplate just how far (and yet not so far) we have come since he invited us to build a better world for all people.

At a time when our nation continues to do damage (and damage control) in places like Afghanistan, supports totalitarian regimes like the Saudis as they destroy another nation (Yemen) and its people, and wonders why so many people in other parts of the world hate us, it is timely to consider the speech delivered by Dr. King over 50 years ago when our nation was immersed in yet another foreign misadventure. Dr. King delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967. It was an extraordinary speech in which he questioned not only the role of the United States in the world, but also the very nature of our economic system.

When we hear about Dr. King – generally once a year around the time of his birthday, January 15th – the news media refers to him as “the slain civil rights leader.” But Dr. King was so much more than that, and our national news media have never come to terms with all that Dr. King stood for. The TV images the media convey are generally those showing him battling segregation in Birmingham in 1963; reciting his dream of racial harmony in Washington in 1963; and marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama in 1965.

In the early 1960s when Dr. King was challenging legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were sympathetic, showing footage of police dogs, bullwhips and cattle prods used against southern African Americans who sought the right to vote or eat at a public lunch counter.

That all changed when, after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts in 1964 and 1965, Dr. King began challenging our nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that the civil rights laws meant nothing without human rights, including economic rights. He spoke out against the huge gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

By 1967 Dr. King had become one of the country’s most prominent opponents of the Vietnam War as well as a staunch critic of overall United States foreign policy. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Dr. King made a significant leap from fighting for civil rights for African-Americans to morally challenging U.S. dominion over the rest of the world. The “Beyond Vietnam” speech resonates as strongly today on every level as it did a half century ago.

Dr. King spoke of the difficulty of working for peace in an atmosphere of mass conformity. “Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men (sic) do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.” He went on to say that, “the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.” There is no other choice for us, because, “silence is betrayal.”

Dr. King saw the connection between war and the evisceration of social programs in this country. He “knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men (sic) and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube.” Dr. King saw “war as an enemy of the poor”.

He was amazed that people would ask him why he was speaking against the war. “Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men (sic)—for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully he died for them?” He went on to say that as children of the living God, “We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers (sic).”

Dr. King spoke of “a far deeper malady within the American spirit” – greed. He said that it is our “refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments” that governs our foreign policy, and makes the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” He called for a “radical revolution of values” wherein we “shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.” He said that playing “the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside…will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Dr. King was not afraid to give a dire warning to the American people that, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He hammered away at the need for everyone to speak out and use the most creative methods of protest possible, not just against the war, but also for “significant and profound change in American life and policy.” He believed that, “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” The sword that we carry is love. “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

Just the other day, President Trump referred to African nations, as well as Haiti and El Salvador, as “shitholes,” demonstrating, yet again, not only his own deep, underlying hatred and racism, but also the racism that runs deep within the fractured American experiment.

And worse, Trump has threatened the most extreme violence of all toward North Korea, bringing the world closer to nuclear war than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. His rhetoric is deeply steeped in violence, and nuclear war is the ultimate expression of all violence, one that would surely bring an end of civilization, and possibly the entire human race.

Dr. King understood the immorality of nuclear war all too well, as Vincent Intondi describes in his book, African Americans Against The Bomb:

When asked in December 1957 about the use of nuclear weapons, King replied: “I definitely feel that the development and use of nuclear weapons should be banned. It cannot be disputed that a full-scale nuclear war would be utterly catastrophic. Hundreds and millions of people would be killed outright by the blast and heat, and by the ionizing radiation produced at the instant of the explosion . . . Even countries not directly hit by bombs would suffer through global fall-outs. All of this leads me to say that the principal objective of all nations must be the total abolition of war. War must be finally eliminated or the whole of mankind will be plunged into the abyss of annihilation.”

If Dr. King was alive today, he would ask why every nation has not yet signed and ratified the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He would ask how nations can put selfish, and misguided, self-interest ahead of the interests of humanity. He would ask why nations continue to squander their people’s wealth on militarism and nuclear weapons while ignoring their people’s basic needs. He would ask, “Why, Mr. Trump, is your heart filled with hate?” Of eliminating the threat of nuclear war that looms over humanity he would ask, “If not now, when?”

As he neared the end of his Beyond Vietnam speech Dr. King stated that, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” Time does not stop for us to sit and ponder our actions. The time is now. “Now let us begin. Let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.”

Dr. King’s words continue speak to us today, and with that same great sense of urgency. The odds are great and the struggle is hard. But we have no other choice if we are to build a better world for all. We must act, whatever the cost. To be successful, we need to be in solidarity with each other, in our communities as well as with people throughout the world.

Martin Luther King Jr. left us a beautiful and important legacy of love and nonviolence. He lives on through his words, and beckons us to continue the work of building a just, peaceful world. The best way that we can remember and honor him is to work to build bridges of peace and understanding in our families, communities, and around the world.

And may Love have the final word!

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End Note: Click here to read the entire Beyond Vietnam speech. 

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GZ New Year E-News: Get Involved/Take Action

Dear Friends of a world free of nuclear weapons,

Welcome to the Mad, Mad, Mad world of 2018! A world that could be reduced to cinders in less time than it would take to watch the movie Dr. Strangelove, a film that is ironically, to quote Daniel Ellsberg in his new book, The Doomsday Machine, “essentially, a documentary.” The ultimate madness of the past 70-plus years is that those responsible for nuclear war planning knew all along (or should have known) that they were planning for the probable extinction of life on Earth.

Nearly a quarter century since the beginning of the nuclear age, and well past the time of Kings, the world is still at the mercy of the Thermonuclear Monarchs, the anointed ones who have their fingers on what people like to call the “nuclear button.” Of course, as Ellsberg explains, it is even worse than that. Not only in the United States, but probably in most other nuclear-armed nations, the authority to use nuclear weapons has been delegated to countless others (besides the President) principally in the military chain of command. The ability to start a nuclear war is (and always has been) much easier than anyone would expect.

The current crisis with North Korea has been compared with and considered (by some) as the closest we have come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Whatever the parallels, there is one key difference. We currently have (in the U.S.) a president who appears to have no concept of the potential consequences of his cavalier statements toward North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un. Whatever his underlying motives are, his actions speak for themselves, and they threaten not only North Korea, but all of humanity.

Even a limited nuclear war with North Korea would likely result in the deaths of millions on and near the Korean peninsula, and horrific and lasting environmental effects and human suffering lasting many generations. As the drumbeats continue to drone on, there is another way.

This month we honor and celebrate the birth of the prophet and peacemaker Martin Luther King Jr.  Although widely known for his civil rights leadership, after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts in 1964 and 1965 Dr. King began challenging our nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that the civil rights laws meant nothing without human rights, including economic rights. He spoke out against the huge gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

By 1967 Dr. King had become one of the country’s most prominent opponents of the Vietnam War as well as a staunch critic of overall United States foreign policy. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Dr. King made a significant leap from fighting for civil rights for African-Americans to morally challenging U.S. dominion over the rest of the world. His was a strong, prophetic voice for peace, and clearly understood the madness of nuclear weapons. As Vincent Intondi, author of African Americans Against the Bomb, stated:

When asked in December 1957 about the use of nuclear weapons, King replied: “I definitely feel that the development and use of nuclear weapons should be banned. It cannot be disputed that a full-scale nuclear war would be utterly catastrophic. Hundreds and millions of people would be killed outright by the blast and heat, and by the ionizing radiation produced at the instant of the explosion . . . Even countries not directly hit by bombs would suffer through global fall-outs. All of this leads me to say that the principal objective of all nations must be the total abolition of war. War must be finally eliminated or the whole of mankind will be plunged into the abyss of annihilation.”

King remained committed to the antinuclear cause throughout the Civil Rights Movement. In 1959, five months after being stabbed in Harlem, King addressed the War Resisters League’s thirty-sixth annual dinner, where he praised its work and linked the domestic struggle for racial justice with the campaign for global disarmament: “Not only in the South, but throughout the nation and the world, we live in an age of conflicts, an age of biological weapons, chemical warfare, atomic fallout and nuclear bombs . . . Every man, woman, and child lives, not knowing if they shall see tomorrow’s sunrise.” He asked, “What will be the ultimate value of having established social justice in a context where all people, Negro and White, are merely free to face destruction by strontium 90 or atomic war?”

While many people are concerned about North Korean nuclear weapons, the U.S. and Russia still hold 13,800 of the world’s nuclear warheads, while North Korea is estimated to have about 10. Kim Jong-un will not use his nuclear weapons unless his regime is threatened by military action. There is absolutely NO acceptable military option in the standoff with North Korea. Nonviolent conflict resolution (in the form of sustained diplomacy) is the only way to resolve this crisis. Nonviolence is the answer.

It is, perhaps, perfect timing that the 2018 Winter Olympics will be hosted by South Korea, beginning on February 9th. North Korea and South Korea (at the South’s invitation) will also engage soon in official talks in what will be the first high-level contact between the two countries in more than two years. And it is quite probable that the North will send athletes to compete in the winter games. It is critical that the U.S. not undermine any of these efforts. It is time for President Trump to cease his violent threats toward North Korea and reduce the risk of nuclear war. Oh, and it would also help if we just called off (rather than postponing till after the Olympics) yet another military drill with South Korea!

Please join us in continuing to push for nonviolent solutions to the crisis with North Korea, a situation that should never have gotten to this (boiling) point. Here are a few current actions we can all take to make our voices heard:

SUPPORT THE OLYMPIC TRUCE:  The United Nations has asked member states to observe an Olympic truce between February 2nd and March 25th. South Korea has also asked the U.S. to delay its war rehearsal flights over South Korea until after the truce. Please sign the petition urging all nations to support the Olympic truce (and to continue it indefinitely thereafter).

Sign the People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea: Alarmed by the threat of a nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea, Peace Action, joined by other U.S. peace groups have come together to send an open message to Washington and Pyongyang that we are strongly opposed to any resumption of the horrific Korean War. What we want is a peace treaty to finally end the lingering Korean War!

Tell Congress: Open Vital Channels to North Korea:   Several unresolved humanitarian issues between the U.S. and North Korea must be addressed urgently – and offer diplomatic avenues for stabilizing relations with Pyongyang. Issues such as repatriating the remains of U.S. servicemen left in North Korea following the Korean War and reuniting divided Korean and Korean American families should be priorities in the U.S. policy toward North Korea.  Contact Congress and urge them to open these channels and to pursue diplomacy, not war, with North Korea.

Beyond the Bomb has written an Open Letter to Congress about how President Trump is moving us closer to nuclear war. I suggest that we all take that letter and visit our members of Congress or their local staffers, demanding that they reign in this loose cannon who occupies The White House. Click this link to find your members of Congress, and find the nearest office where you can meet with staffers to present your case.

Tell Twitter: Crack down on @RealDonaldTrumpTwitter has recently cracked down on some groups using its platform to “promote violence against civilians to further their causes,” but had the nerve to say that Donald Trump is not violating its terms of service, even in the wake of his last Tweet about having a “much bigger & more powerful Nuclear Button” than Kim Jong-un. This could be, by far, Trump’s most egregious and testosterone-laced Tweet toward North Korea, and it’s high time he stops threatening nuclear war. Since most of Congress doesn’t seem to have the courage or conviction, perhaps we can at least convince Twitter to do something about this. Tell Twitter: Crack down on @RealDonaldTrump.

As for all of us at Ground Zero Center, we haven’t been resting through these turbulent times. Check out what we’ve been up to in the January 2018 Ground Zero Newsletter that just went to press. While you’re there, you can subscribe to our E-Newsletters is you aren’t already on the mailing list.

I recently finished reading The Doomsday Machine, and on the last page he quotes Dr. King’s prophetic warning (related directly to nuclear weapons) that, We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.” Speaking of Ellsberg, he will appear in Seattle on January 9th to speak about The Doomsday Machine. Tickets are sold out, and I expect that we will have a video to share if you miss it. And here’s a special offer to any of your who will be in Seattle that evening and would like to attend, but missed out on tickets. The first person to email me at outreach@gzcenter.org will receive two free tickets to the Ellsberg event. I will email you direct links from which you can print your tickets. I will also announce the lucky winner in our next E-Newsletter.

On Saturday, January 13th Ground Zero Center hosted a vigil at the Bangor Trident base, our way of honoring Martin Luther King Jr’s life and works. We will have news and photos from that event available soon.

The monks of the Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Miyohoji Temple are currently on their annual Peace Walk honoring Dr. King from January 10th through the 15th. You are welcome to join any portion of the walk. Click here to see the schedule and find contact information.

And finally, if you’re in Seattle on January 15th, join us at the 36th Annual MLK Seattle Celebration at Garfield High School. Ground Zero Center will be in the march, and we welcome you to join us marching, holding banners and signs, and handing out leaflets. This year’s theme is Take a Knee for Justice! Click here to learn more.

You can check out all Ground Zero events at our Events calendar at gzcenter.org, and in between E-Newsletters you can keep up with the resistance at our Facebook page. And please share this E-Newsletter with at least two (or more) people who aren’t already engaged in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons. This is shaping up to be a watershed year for our work, and we need to build a groundswell of support for abolition. As Dr. King once said:

“We must recognize the fierce urgency of now… Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.”

On behalf of Ground Zero Center,

Leonard Eiger

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Nobel Peace Prize: No time to rest on our laurels

Greetings Friends of a Better World,

This is a time of grave danger (to all of humanity). Never has it been more evident how few people have so much control over the fate of humanity. We quite literally live in (as author Elaine Scarry calls it) a “Thermonuclear Monarchy.”

I have felt for many years that the story of the nuclear abolition movement has been something akin to the fable of the Little Dutch Boy who holds his finger in the dike to keep it from flooding the city. However, in our version of the story, the boy (or girl) has had that finger in the dike for what seems an eternity, and the waters behind the dike have risen and fallen many times over the years. All along, most people have walked by and ignored the child. The few who paid attention told the city’s leaders, who always explained that all was well; that they had things well under control. And now, once again the waters are so near the top of the dike that the child feels the water as it splashes over the lip. The pressure on the bulging dike is phenomenal, and the citizens can clearly see the dike bowing bulging as it nears the breaking point. Yet, most they go about their daily routine, and the city leaders continue telling the people that all is well, the dike is doing its job and is designed to hold back all the water that might build up behind it. When asked about the child, the city leaders say that, “The child is just playing a child’s game, pretending to hold back the water. The hole is NOT a real issue. We adults have everything under control. There is no danger. The system that we have developed has worked as intended all these years, and will continue to work. Trust us.”

The people have heard these words over and over. They have been taught to respect the authority of their leaders, to believe whatever they are told by them, that they are here to protect the people from the dangers of the world around them. And indeed, the world is a dangerous place. One might think I am writing just about climate change and its effects. In fact, as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has said in its most recent reset of the famous Doomsday Clock, the two most existential issues of our time are the potential for nuclear war and the effects of climate change.

Earlier in 2017 The Bulletin’s Science and Advisory board set the clock at Two And A Half Minutes To Midnight, the closest it had been since 1953 after the US, and then the Soviet Union, tested their first hydrogen bombs (pushing the clock to 2 Minutes To Midnight). In that announcement they warned: “Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.” The 2017 announcement came just weeks into the new Trump administration. One can only imagine how close The Doomsday Clock would be to midnight should The Bulletin reset the hands today!

News outlets have continually raised the issue of tensions between the US and North Korea over the past year since Trump came into power. It has been a story of reciprocal (and escalating) taunts between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, two leaders whose egos and hubris get in the way of their responsibility(s) to their people. Trump, the leader of one of two nations possessing roughly 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, has initiated not only the taunts, but both direct and indirect threats of (thermonuclear) violence against North Korea, the result of which would be the loss of millions of lives on the entire Korean peninsula, Japan, and Guam, and possibly elsewhere. As many of us have stated time and time again, “There is no acceptable military response to the situation with North Korea!”

It is unconscionable that one person should not only have the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons, as does President Trump, but also the power to directly threaten other nations with nuclear devastation. Trump’s current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has strained to apply diplomacy with North Korea, countering Trumps threats of nuclear annihilation. And just last week we learned that the drumbeats of change are afoot once again with Tillerson likely on his way out, and someone on his way in who will likely walk in lockstep the Trump and his inflammatory rhetoric (and increase the drumbeats of war), adding yet more fuel to the pyre Trump is building for millions (if not more) human beings.

One of the greatest problems currently plaguing the US movement to abolish nuclear weapons is the overwhelming plethora of other issues overshadowing this most urgent issue. And there is no end of irony here. Politicians make absolutely ridiculous decisions to gut the Affordable Care Act, dismember regulatory entities (like the EPA) and the regulations associated with them intended to protect the public health and welfare, give yet more tax advantages to those already possessing the vast majority of the nation’s wealth, and pass a $700 billion military spending bill for the (not so) simple reason that they benefit financially from these decisions and retain the perks and power of public office. Yet, they have no clue that the inevitable use of nuclear weapons will be the great equalizer.

No amount of money will ultimately protect them (or the millionaires and billionaires who fund their campaign coffers) from the “fallout” of nuclear war. They will ultimately have to come out of their elaborate bomb shelters to face an unrecognizable and dangerous world, or at least what is left of it. Those they have paid to protect them will be AWOL, doing their best to just survive. All the gold and glitter of Trump Tower, should it still be standing, will be worthless (and likely radioactive) in a post-apocalytic world.

The good news is that civil society has done extraordinary things, culminating in 2017 with 122 nations creating a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Each of these accomplishments represents the collective actions of countless citizens, organizations, diplomats, parliamentarians and others working in concert for the benefit of humanity. And just for the record, the ban treaty is an extraordinary example of the best of the United Nations.

Today’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Oslo, Norway represent a huge achievement. It is a day to celebrate and gather strength for the long struggle ahead. We mustn’t allow ourselves to rest for more than this brief celebratory moment, as we are engaged in a struggle against extraordinarily strong and deeply entrenched forces that worship the bomb and all it represents.

2018 will be a make or break year, a year in which we must maintain and build upon the momentum created in 2017, and use every creative strategy available to engage a massive upwelling of global citizen support for abolition. We will need to build alliances across every movement. We will need to reach deep within people’s hearts and minds to gain their attention and support. We will need to ask the difficult, but necessary, questions, like: “CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?”, as did Ground Zero Center in our most recent Seattle bus advertisement. We must develop a global citizen-led movement unlike any in the history of the nuclear abolition movement.

I began this letter on a dark note, yet even as I wrote those words I felt (and still feel) a lightness and hope. That hope is is based on the knowledge that each of you reading these words holds a light within you, and that together our light will ultimately drive away the darkness that has persisted throughout the nearly three quarters of a century of the nuclear age.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action is honored to be part of this movement working to give humanity a more secure future. We will continue speaking truth to power and helping build a movement that will be impossible for the Thermonuclear Monarchs to ignore. The greater, immediate, challenge will be keeping the dike from bursting. The standoff with North Korea, that seems to be more of a personal feud between the countries’ “leaders,” must be brought under control. Although there is evidently no way to control Trump’s compulsive tweeting, Congress can (and must) reign in his ability to start a war, which, in the case of North Korea, would most certainly go nuclear. 

Click here to write your members of Congress and demand that they support legislation to prevent preemptive and unconstitutional attacks on North Korea.

U.S. peace groups have come together to send an open message to Washington and Pyongyang that we are strongly opposed to any resumption of the horrific Korean War. Click here to add your name to the People’s PeaceTreaty with North Korea before the end of the month!

Click here to read about and support diplomacy with North Korea! I cannot stress enough that there are NO acceptable military solutions. Sustained diplomacy is the only answer!

Finally, here’s an opportunity for Congress to clearly state that, “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.” Although I personally have a problem with the idea of using nuclear weapons at all, this bill is an important step, and is establishing an critical dialogue, particularly with such a reckless President in control of nuclear weapons. Click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor.

When you’re done with the action alerts, since most of us couldn’t attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, click here to view a video of the entire ceremony, including speeches by ICAN’s Beatrice Fihn and Setsuko Thurlo, a Hibakusha of Hiroshima. Congratulations to all who have brought us this far, and here’s to the work yet to be done! 

On behalf of Ground Zero Center,

Leonard Eiger

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Ground Zero Center Annual Letter

November 4, 2017

Dear Friends,

This is our annual report of activities, and an appeal for funds for Ground Zero.  Thank you for your past contributions and for keeping us in your thoughts.

We especially appreciate your support at Ground Zero events throughout the year.  Please join us whenever you can.  

Nonviolent direct action is the tool that harnesses the light within us.  When we act, we inspire ourselves and others to join us.  In these times of constant noise and confusion, we can break through the noise when we stay focused and stay on point with our message.  Please stay strong and hold your light for all to see. 

In 2017, we witnessed a growing awareness of the Bangor submarine base in the Pacific Northwest, due in part to our first King County Metro bus ad in 2016, declaring that Bangor is the site of the “largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.”   

Following up on last year’s success, we again ran a bus ad on 26 Metro buses which stated, “CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?”  Ground Zero paid for the bus ads to run from mid-July to around the first week in October, but some ads are still on buses at this time.

On October 6, 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its role in achieving the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Ground Zero is one of over 460 partner organizations with ICAN.  Graciously, ICAN credited all of us working for nuclear abolition:

This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.

It is a tribute also to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the hibakusha – and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world, whose searing testimonies and unstinting advocacy were instrumental in securing this landmark agreement…

This year Ground Zero celebrated its 40th anniversary.  While many members were preparing for August events, Sallie Shawl and others organized an event on July 30, featuring seven panels of speakers from different historical periods.  Mike McCormick made videos of the presentations which can be seen on YouTube.  Many early members of the group spoke at Ground Zero, including Shelley and Jim Douglass, Caroline Wildflower, Marya Barr, Karol Shulkin, and others.  Bob Aldridge sent a letter to members at the gathering, commending us for our work and urging us to prepare for upcoming global political-social challenges of the 21st century.

In 2017, Ground Zero members spoke against Trident nuclear weapons in courtrooms, classrooms and workshops, public meetings, radio and video interviews, newspapers, and in demonstrations in Seattle and Kitsap County.  We continued with our informative and acclaimed Ground Zero newsletter, Ground Zero website, monthly leafleting at the Trident base, a campaign against the Trident replacement submarines, work to build a Peace Pagoda at Ground Zero, and local community outreach.

Ground Zero works to stay an effective and sustainable organization in these efforts.  We are an all-volunteer organization where members are not compensated for time, travel or other personal expenses.  All of our decisions at Ground Zero are made by strict consensus, meaning that one person can block a decision.  We try our best to work together.  When we reach agreement, we move forward together.

We would be remiss not to mention the loss of Ground Zero member Mira Leslie.  Mira was a steady hand and encouraged all of us to continue our work for peace and justice.  She attended her last Stewardship Council meeting less than a week before passing.  Mira’s love and sensibility are sorely missed.

To all Ground Zero supporters, we promise to remain true to our Mission Statement, which reads:

Founded in 1977, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection, providing a means for witnessing to and resisting all nuclear weapons, especially Trident. We seek to go to the root of violence and injustice in our world and experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action.

Please join with us when you can.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: We are still in the process of finding a donation hosting site that is in keeping with our mission and values. We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused some donors. For now, we welcome your donations by mail (the old fashioned way). You may donate to one or both entities:

  • Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZCNA) for core work and expenses.
  • Ground Zero Community, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization established for the educational work of GZCNA.

Please send your donations to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, 16159 Clear Creek Road NW, Poulsbo, WA, 98370

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