Working towards peace and sustainability

A Call to Come Together on August 7

On the evening of Saturday, August 7, members of Peaceworks and friends, old and new, will gather at Stephens Lake Park for our 24th annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Gathering. Details are posted below, but first some thoughts from Peaceworks Director Mark Haim:

WHY GATHER? You know, there are some things we just don't like to think about. For many of us, our own mortality is high on that list. But some things are even more disturbing. One of these is the potential for the annihilation of life on Earth; the destruction of all the accomplishments of human civilization--the art, beauty, literature and music we've created--not to mention the tearing asunder of the fabric of nature and the destruction of hundreds of billions of non-human lives.

THE NUCLEAR IMPERATIVE: While many human actions negatively impact the Earth—witness the tragedy currently unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico—nuclear war holds a unique position in terms of its destructive potential. And since the first nuclear bombs were exploded in the summer of 1945, our planet has been literally living on borrowed time.

We've been extremely lucky to date that there has been no use of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We've come frighteningly close to their use, by miscalculated bluff or technical malfunction, on more than one occasion. We certainly can't count on that luck holding out indefinitely, especially as more nations gain nuclear capabilities.

Thus, one of the critical imperatives of our age is the abolition of nuclear weapons. This must be done in a mutual, verifiable fashion. Our nation, which took the lead in developing these hellish devices, and is the only country to have ever used them, is uniquely positioned to lead the world away from the nuclear precipice.

This will not happen, however, if we simply wait for President Obama or Congress to take action. There needs to be a groundswell of concern coming from the grassroots. We all need to find our own way to express our sense of urgency. But we also need to come together to work on this issue. We owe it to our kids, to their great-grandkids, and to the countless generations who we hope and pray will follow and have a habitable, green, verdant Earth to live on.

So, I encourage you to join us at our Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Gathering on Saturday, August 7.

REASONS TO PARTICIPATE: The reasons for attending include:

** To experience a sense of solidarity with a community of people who share your concerns; who also want a future free of the threat of nuclear war.

** To make or renew a commitment to create such a future.

** To participate in the creation of commemorative lanterns and to watch these candle-boats float on the lake at dark.

** To enjoy the fine music; to learn from and be inspired by the excellent speakers.

** To share in a scrumptious potluck dinner.

** To take the opportunity to share this experience with your kids, your friends, your lover, your neighbors, etc.

EVENT DETAILS: We will gather at the Gordon Shelter of Stephens Lake Park starting at 6 p.m. (use the Broadway entrance). The potluck dinner will be held shortly after 6. Please bring your own table service, if possible. Lantern making begins once we are done eating. Music begins around 7 and speakers and performance art begin at 8 p.m. We float the lanterns about 9 p.m. Music for the evening will be provided by Steve Jacobs. The commemorative program will include talks by Ruth Schaefer, of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, and Henry and Jane Stoever of Kansas City PeaceWorks, who have taken a leadership role in opposing the new nuclear weapons plant proposed to be built in Kansas City.

FINAL THOUGHT: If you believe in a God that created this Earth, certainly, this creator would want us to take responsibility for creation, not destroy it. If you don't hold to a theistic belief, then certainly we, the Earth's inhabitants are responsible for our actions and ought to do no harm. Whatever your belief, nuclear weapons are too horrible to ignore. And ignoring them won't make them go away. Please do what you can to say "yes" to a future through the abolition of this overarching threat to our existence