• Jon B. Comstock

The end of civilization OR Defund the button

MONDAY MATTERS – August 10| Civilization has ended OR Defund the button.

Background – Part 1: You saw the devastating blast in Beirut last week that was likely caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the dock - within a mile of the government - ever since it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014. Half the capital city of Beriut has been damaged, more than 135 killed and over 5,000 likely injured, untold homeless – many billions in damage - a crater over 200 yards across - with countries across the world offering aid. Did you happen to see that port representatives had over a course of years warned of the danger right in their midst? A parliamentarian was quoted as saying, “if it turns out to be accidental then the disaster is not particularly surprising, the product of cumulative nonchalance at all levels.”

Background – Part 2: You know this past Thursday, August 6, marks 75years since the United States dropped its atomic bomb on Hiroshima (killing 150,000 persons) (and Nagasaki a few days later, killing another 75,000). In a flash of light the devastation was wrought. The current Mayor there has asked Japan’s government to ratify a 2017 U.N. treaty proposing the elimination of nuclear weapons – and urges that the United States and Russia promptly renew what is called the New START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which otherwise expires in February 2021- in the absence of which decades of efforts to limit nuclear arsenals will be unwound. What is our discomfort with a decision of our government to launch a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday of this week from our homeland to an atoll in the Marshall Islands?

The shadow of death: I am an attorney/mediator – not a therapist or mental health counselor. But I regularly help people navigate through stressful times in their lives and routinely act as a peacemaker and form my own opinions about “what is troubling us as a people”? Why for instance does suicide take twice as many lives as homicide in our country? Why is it the second leading cause of death for young people? Why have we been willing to pay $1 Trillion on the “war on drugs” which has and is destroying our families and communities, while failing to treat the affliction of substance abuse as a genuine health issue? How do we tolerate a society where as many as 20-25% barely survive and others accumulate further wealth without limits? How did we get to the point that easily 20% of all Americans suffer from a mental illness – more than half untreated? Why has church attendance dropped precipitously? How did this Land Of The Free get to be 5% of the world’s population, yet 25% of the incarcerated population? What is it that allows us to remain by-standers while global warming threatens us and our planet?

My own conjecture is that we have lived and are living our entire lives with the unspoken knowledge that “with the push of a button” our government leaders could – without any forewarning to us - launch nuclear warheads that will terminate most of our lives, destroy civilization and make our blue planet Earth uninhabitable. We know that nuclear warheads represent an existential threat to all of us. Fatalism deprives a person of purpose and meaning.

ACTION STEP: Make real effort to get educated. Become peace literate. Read, “The Button” co-authored by William J. Perry, 19th US Secretary of Defense and learn of the substantial risk of accidental catastrophe. Study Pope Francis’ basis for insisting that nuclear weapons represent “a crime …against the dignity of human beings…”. Is it relevant to any of us to ask whether or not Jesus would agree? Watch a documentary on Hiroshima. Silence kills. Speak up.

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© Jon Comstock  for Arkansas 2020

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