The following speech was delivered by DDC [now Imago Dei Politics] Chair Tara Thieke at the Rehumanize International’s anti-nuclear rally in Washington D.C. on September 9, 2017.
It’s a beautiful day for a march, isn’t it? We can all appreciate how lovely it is to be in the nation’s capital and not be oppressed by the humidity. And as we acknowledge our good fortune, we know there are other people suffering hurricanes, devastation, and immense suffering.
Yet life goes on here. When the skies are clear we can fool ourselves into believing the gathering storm will always make landfall somewhere else. We can look at our children and think how lucky we are to be here, now, safe. We are all too willing to take our good fortune and our blessings for granted, and thus overlook both the violent social structure they often rest upon, and our failure to take responsibility for those abuses.
Over the past few decades our society has become complacent, taking the work of the first anti-nuclear activists for granted. We’ve assumed a crisis averted one day means safety forever. President Eisenhower and General MacArthur went from privately arguing against the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to considering the use of those weapons in Korea. Today we see a resurgence in talk regarding the use of these weapons in that same part of the world. Violence made optional becomes violence normalized. Violence ignored, for however long, doesn’t go away. It just waits.
Normalization leads to apathy. We’ve grown used to nuclear weapons being a back burner issue, and so we’ve ceded our responsibility to care for and protect our neighbors, our children, and future generations. The truth is we live under the the sword of Damocles, our destruction hanging over us by the thread of what remains of our collective sanity.
Why must generations of children be told their safety can wait? Why do we put our own comfort first, neglecting our inheritance and our responsibility? Why do we put off the opportunity to be peace-makers? How can we possibly excuse ourselves from the task of removing the greatest threat on Earth, weapons which threaten the born, the unborn, the living, the future? There is no excuse. We have only our rationalizations, our comfort and our apathy. Those are poor reasons to reject the chance to love our children more completely.
If we love our neighbor, if we love our children, we will move with all due speed and diligence to hold accountable those reckless and violent enough to risk the world so they can play with fire. We have inherited a great legacy of those who risked their reputations and comfort to protect our shared world. But still the weapons exist.
It is our task, as a movement which truly understands that the innocent are never means to an end, that no person is an inconvenience or should be treated as a pawn, to bring together the big and small. We know the most vulnerable, poorest, weakest person is as valuable as the strongest and wealthiest. We know our children’s peace is only as healthy as the peace of our neighbors, and so no child can be said to live in a peaceful world so long as these weapons loom between us.
As Dorothy Day said, “No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.” So let’s do it, and let’s make it work, for the sake of our children, our neighbors, and the world.