My Turn: What will it take?

  • Andy Larkin pulls a stream of lanterns in Nashawannuck Pond at The Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembrance and lantern ceremony in Easthampton in 2018. This year’s event will take place Sunday night from 7-8:30. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 8/4/2022 4:59:05 PM

After being blindsided by a speeding car at an intersection of a quiet neighborhood in Westfield some 30 years ago, the city saw fit to post a STOP sign at the sight of the accident.

The impact on my VW Golf was so powerful that it lifted and spun my small car 180 degrees onto an adjacent lawn. Thanking God for seatbelts, I was not visibly bruised. (Moreso, at the local emergency room, they assured me that, having checked my head, they found absolutely nothing there!)

The upshot is that it took a near death experience of a local resident to compel them to erect the warning signs at the heretofore dangerous crossway.

Now going on 77 years, even though we have witnessed the shock of nuclear-related accidents, we have yet to find a way to stop the nuclear arms race in order to begin the global wide process of systematically dismantling and forever banning these unfathomably hellish weapons.

The 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe remains a glaring example of the effect of a fallout. At the height of its multiple explosions, it registered twice as powerful as our cataclysmic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Thanks to the massive cover-up by the former Soviet Union, and likewise years later by our own researchers, fearing it would rock the nuclear industry’s boat, the world has little or no idea that millions, rather than thousands as reported, were harmed to one degree or another, God only knows how irreparably.

All this leads us to ask: well, what is it going to take before the nine nuclear armed states conclude that a complete ban is essential to the very future not only of their particular nation, but also of civilization itself? Even if only one were dropped on a mid-sized city, whether over Russia or here, the need would overwhelm health care providers of our or their entire nation, given deep burns and life-long side effects.

If there is any good news, it is that the United Nations’ 2017 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Warheads became international law a year ago, having been ratified by the governing bodies of at least 50 countries (now up to 66), thereby declaring all nine nations in violation until each agrees to take steps toward total abolition, a tall task to be sure, given that in 2021 alone, they spent a staggering total of $82 billion (access: preventnuclearwar.org).

While pressure grows internationally, two statewide anti-nuclear movements, Back From The Brink and Nuclear Free Future (Nuclear Ban.US) have joined many other peace-related groups to urge the State House to pass S.1555, and its House equivalent, H.3688. This would create a Citizens Commission to assess the existential threats posed by the presence of warheads. (Each was brought forward by Sen. Jo Comerford and Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, respectively).

These STOP signs are our only hope to advance the life-saving cause of a world without these weapons of unimaginable mass destruction.

Come find out more about what you can do to assure that none will ever be used again: “Remembering Hiroshima,” Sunday, Aug. 7, 7-8:30 p.m., at Nashawannuck Pond, Easthampton, closing with the ritual of floating lanterns, symbolizing “the slaughter of the innocents” of Biblical proportions.

The Rev. Peter Kakos lives in Northampton.

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