Ever since I was a child (I’m now a senior citizen) there has been war, civil unrest, and carnage somewhere around the world and in the US. We’ve had murders and riots. I remember conflicts in South America. Dictators in Chile, Argentina and Peru who ruled with an iron fist. There were violent civil wars in Central America in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Who could forget the long, bitter struggle for human dignity in South Africa to dismantle apartheid? Famines, always there’ve been famines, mostly man-made. Biafra comes to mind as do many others in Africa. Genocides do too, like the appalling bloodshed in Rwanda, Darfur, Central African Republic, the Balkans, Burma, and the list goes on and on. Now the hotspots are Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, oh Iraq, we never should have invaded you. That was such a horrendous mistake. Even the bi-partisan 9/11 commission said Iraq had nothing to do with the Twin Tower attacks. I have a copy of the report. I paid $10 for it.
I grew up during the Cold War, always fearful of “the bomb”. The US and the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) were enemies at the time, each racing to build the biggest and baddest nuclear bomb. There were thermonuclear bombs that could obliterate entire cities, flatten them into piles of rubble in mere seconds, such as we did to Japan in 1945 that ended World War II. There later was a strategy with the USSR called MAD, mutually assured destruction, that sort of kept each country in place. You launch a bomb on us, we’ll fire one on you. We both lose. In grammar school, we were routinely subject to air raid drills. One by one, children filed into the closet with our index fingers firmly pressed against our lips. Talking wasn’t permitted. Of course we were terrified. Apartment buildings were designated with a yellow/black sign as a fallout shelter, a place to hide in case of a nuclear attack. Basements were stocked with provisions to survive, such as water and crackers. Gee, I wonder how long that would last among hundreds of scared, frightened and desperate people? What would happen if “the bomb” actually dropped? We’d be wiped out entirely. After I said that, another child started to cry. Our teacher, a Catholic nun, yanked on my pony tail. Who told you that, she demanded. My father. Shut your mouth or you’re in trouble. So I did. I always wondered how hiding in a closet would protect us from a massive nuclear attack. Thanks to God it never happened. During the 1980s the nuclear arms raced heated up. Both nations spent trillions of dollars on nuclear weapons, even though millions of Americans and Russians lived in squalid conditions. We could blow up the entire solar system if we had wanted to. We still could. On June 12, 1982 there was a march against the nuclear madness in New York City’s Central Park. I marched with over 1 million people of all races, religions, and creeds in unison to protest our objections to the insanity of nuclear weapons. Just one bomb, just one mistake, just one accident, could end the existence of the human race.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Communism in Eastern Europe collapsed. It’s still a major force in North Korea but on the wane in Cuba and China, two hold-outs. For a while there was a thaw in the icy relations between the two major nuclear powers, the US and Russia. There were the SALT talks, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, to reduce the number of weapons each side had. Now it seems we’re back at it again. Iran wants to go nuclear. Israel joined years ago but won’t say so publicly. The whackos in North Korea could unleash a nuclear nightmare because their young leader wants to prove his manhood. India and Pakistan, two mortal enemies, are both nuclear armed. The USA and Russia have an odd relationship. One day they are friends, pledging to work together for the common good; the next day they are dangerously close to the edge of war. If they go at it, we’re all doomed.
So while we humans continue to bicker, battle and destroy each other, animals, and our environment with no end in sight, our unwillingness to peacefully settle our differences continues to enrich a small but powerful group of people – the arms manufacturers. Companies like Raytheon, Boeing, McConnell Douglass, and others will swim in money because of our petty behavior. As we lob bombs across borders, blow ourselves up, and attack each other with machine guns, the arms makers become richer and richer. Why would they want peace? For them the cessation of hostilities is frightful. For the human race, however, peace is priceless. It brings harmony, safety and security. With peace, there is prosperity, jobs, education, tourism, etc. Peace ends the bitter cycle of savagery and pain. All bleeding hearts stop hurting. We will finally be good with God. Only we as a people can make this happen.
As long we we’re on murderous rampages, maiming and destroying this planet, why would visitors from another world want to come here? If they exist, and maybe they do, our appalling, shameful behavior keeps them away. It also keeps us from each other. Isn’t it time we get right with God and with each other?