I grew up with parents who fought against nuclear testing in the 1950s and early sixties, and against the building of an ever-larger nuclear arsenal and dangerous nuclear power plants-- from the late 50s through the end of the early 90s (when my parents passed away).
Words like SANE, Nuclear Freeze, Hiroshima, nuclear fission, nuclear fall-out, radiation sickness, Atom Bomb, H-Bomb, Chernobyl, leaks, cancer, the Cuban missile crisis, and much more abounded in my house on a daily basis, and names like The Manhattan Project, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Helen Caldicott, Marie Curie, and many others, were used with great frequency as well.
When I was too young to remember, my mother joined her Women Strike For Peace friends and protested in Washington to ban nuclear bomb testing in the U.S. Throughout my childhood, mom and dad worked for the peace movement. Years later, after marching with other members of the Nuclear Freeze movement in Miami, mom and dad would come home and say, "the Cubans threw rocks at us today-they called us communists." I nodded. Big deal. Another march. Another day.
It was all chatter to me as a kid. Background noise as I ate my cereal or watched TV.
I was asleep in my cushy middle-class American life-watching TV incessantly, reading Mad Magazine and Archie comic books, thinking about my friends--an American kid who worried about my own needs, dreams, fears. I certainly didn't want to think about the annihilation of the human race.
Of course I knew about the end of WWII, yet I could not face the pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was too painful to think about.
My parents are no longer alive, but the dangers remain. For 65 years, America has been asleep at the wheel, as Daniel Ellsberg tells us. How many of us, as Ellsberg notes, know the difference between an A-Bomb, H-Bomb, or N-Bomb? How many of us know of the near-misses we already have had? How many of us know of the two missing H-bombs in the swamps of South Carolina (lost in 1958)? How many of us know of the recent use of American DU bombs used in Kuwait and Iraq that have spread large amounts of radiation --leading to cancer, birth and genetic defects in the people of the countries we've attacked (as well as in American soldiers)? How many of us think about the problem of the massive amount of radioactive nuclear waste in this country and the problem of finding a safe way to dispose of it? How many of us really consider the dangers of nuclear power plants, especially in this age of terrorism? How many of us take note of the current attempts by President Obama (and the Pentagon's resistance) to reduce our nuclear arsenal? How many of us know what a "first strike" policy means?
Most importantly, perhaps, few of us consider the ease with which the U.S. or Russia can destroy all life as we know it in seconds.
If we do know of these things, why don't we something about them?
Global warming is important. Toxins and chemical pollution need to be eradicated. Racism, sexism, and classicism must come to an end. Cures for AIDS and cancer (as well as many other terrifying diseases) need to be found. The poor need food and shelter. Solutions to clean water shortages need to be found.
Yet one nuclear accident, mishap, miscommunication, or intentional strike, may mean the end of all human life.
I have to agree with Daniel Ellsberg--I think we're asleep.
Meanwhile thousands of nuclear weapons both here and in Russia are on "high trigger alert."
There is also the growing threat of nuclear terrorism.
I recommend you listen to the following discussion with Dr. Bruce Blair (President Obama's nuclear advisor) with Dr. Helen Caldicott at the following site:
To read Daniel Ellsberg's brilliant article go to: