A curse against God

A curse against God

Phil Berrigan, Nuclear Abolitionist d. 2002

A hero of the Nuclear weapons abolition movement came to mind today. I read President Joe Biden’s plan to move away from endless war to a foreign policy based on diplomacy. Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have explained that they expect to use modern tools to combat terrorism. Today, Biden said that the way to protect human rights “is not through endless military deployments, but through diplomacy, economic tools, and rallying the rest of the world for support.” [Heather Cox Richardson]

It is not clear how Biden plans to use our nuclear arsenal. Are nuclear weapons part of his trove of “modern tools”? They were not mentioned. He is leaning in the right direction. We’ll have to wait and see.
Few anti-nuclear advocates have lived their whole life as a protest. Phil Berrigan is one. As Philip Berrigan said, “Nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself.”
He and several others began the Ploughshares movement. The Plowshares movement is an anti-nuclear weapons and Christian pacifist movement that advocates active resistance to war. The group often practices a form of symbolic protest that involves the damaging of weapons and military property. The movement gained notoriety in the early 1980s when several members damaged nuclear warhead nose cones and were subsequently convicted. The name refers to the text of prophet Isaiah who said that swords shall be beaten into plowshares.[2]

In one of his last public statements, Berrigan said,

The American people are, more and more, making their voices heard against Bush and his warrior clones. Bush and his minions slip out of control, determined to go to war, determined to go it alone, determined to endanger the Palestinians further, determined to control Iraqi oil, determined to ravage further a suffering people and their shattered society. The American people can stop Bush, can yank his feet closer to the fire, can banish the war makers from Washington D.C., can turn this society around and restore it to faith and sanity. [Wikpedia]

I remember when Berrigan spoke in Saint Mark’s Cathedral during the 80s when so many of us were marching and signing peace letters in an attempt to reverse the escalation of nuclear weapons. It was standing room only, everyone stirred to action. But never the kind of action that landed a person in jail over and over. He spent about 11 years in jail for civil disobedience.

Just before he died, he spoke the words quoted at the beginning: I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself.[4]

We need that kind of fire in the belly today.


Thanks for reading. Who are your anti-nuclear heros?

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