A world of nuclear deterrence―a world secured by the prospect of imminent destruction―renders everything fragile and contingent. The absurdity of this situation generates a nihilism that has a profoundly corrosive effect on human society and civilization. This cannot be tolerated.
Crying out in opposition to war and nuclear weapons is neither emotionalism nor self-pity. It is the highest expression of human reason based on an unflinching perception of the dignity of life.
Faced with the horrifying facts of nuclear proliferation, we must call forth the power of hope from within the depths of each individual’s life. We need a revolution in the consciousness of countless individuals―a revolution that gives rise to the heartfelt confidence that “There is something I can do.” Then, finally, we will see a coming together of the world’s people, and hear their common voice, their cry for an end to this terrible madness of destruction.
It is vital that humankind develop a shared consciousness that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil whose existence can never be justified―for any reason or under any circumstance. We must promote the understanding that it is impossible to construct one’s own happiness and security on the fear and suffering of others; and this understanding must be coupled with the compassion, empathy and courage to resist all attempts to do so.
It was human beings who gave rise to nuclear weapons. It cannot therefore be beyond the power of human wisdom to eliminate them. Buddhism asserts that human life contains within it wisdom and compassion powerful enough to rise above any threat or any temptation to resort to violence.
Nuclear weapons epitomize an absolute evil that threatens humankind’s right to live; they are incompatible with the interests not only of national security but of human security―the pursuit of peace and dignity for all people on Earth.
Nuclear weapons, which jeopardize the very existence of humanity, epitomize the tragic truth that our development as human beings has not kept pace with our scientific advances.
Our world continues to be threatened by more than 20,000 nuclear warheads–the capacity to kill or grievously injure all people living on Earth, and to destroy the global ecosystem many times over. We are impelled to ask what it is, exactly, that is being protected by this unimaginable destructive capacity. If even some small portion of the population of one of the combatant nations were to survive, what would await them could hardly be termed a future.
The idea that nuclear weapons function to deter war and are therefore a “necessary evil” is a core impediment to their elimination; this idea must be challenged and dismantled.
The logic of deterrence places the security of one’s own country on one side of the scales of justice, on the other side of which are the lives of vast numbers of ordinary citizens and the living ecology of the entire planet.
The real enemy that we must confront is the ways of thinking that justify nuclear weapons―the readiness to annihilate others when they are seen as a threat or as a hindrance to the realization of our objectives.
The threat posed by nuclear weapons is neither immediately visible nor consistently palpable within the realities of daily life, and there is a tendency to consider this threat as merely a relic of the tragic past. In order to break down the walls of apathy, it is not enough simply to make people aware of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons or the threat they pose. We need to recognize the irrationality and inhumanity of living in a world overshadowed by nuclear weapons, wrenched and distorted by the structural violence they embody.
Today, many people have given up on the possibility of nuclear abolition. But peace is always a competition between resignation and hope. Indifference and acquiescence in the face of the negative, destructive functions of life is, ultimately, to side with the forces of destruction.
What then is the point of national security guaranteed by nuclear weapons, the use of which would inevitably produce catastrophic consequences and result in immense suffering and sacrifice throughout the world? What exactly is it that is protected by a security regime premised on the possibility of inflicting irreparable damage and devastation on vast numbers of people? Is this not a system in which the true objective of national security―protecting people and their lives―has in fact been forsaken?