Humanize not Modernize

Published: November 21, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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Democracy is the only system capable of reflecting the humanist premise of equilibrium or balance. The key to its secret is the involvement of the citizen.”         – John Ralston Saul

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” – Ronald Reagan


“Nuclear weapons have posed an existential threat to humanity for decades. They undermine democracy by putting an unbelievable amount of destructive power in the hands of a single individual. They threaten every person we love, every child, and every beautiful thing that has ever been created and cherished. They threaten the very future of life on our planet.”

That’s Rick Wayman I’m quoting.

Wayman is the director of program and operations at The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Recently, Rick gave a speech at this year’s Annual Evening for Peace dinner. It was brief but inspiring. It remains an important reminder that each of us is responsible for the kind of world we want to live in; a world without nuclear weapons.

“Let me take you back, about 2,400 years ago – that’s a lot of years, I know – to when Alexander the Great ruled in the 4th Century BC. Alexander spent most of his ruling years at war. And if he had decided at that time to spend $1 million per day, every single day, up until today, on his war efforts, he still would not have spent $1 trillion. Yet this is how much the U.S. plans to spend on modernizing its nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years. Think about that – $1 million a day for over 2,400 years and it still wouldn’t equal our nuclear weapons budget for the next 30 years. That is a pretty staggering and frightening statistic.

“At [The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation], we believe that as a people, we need to humanize, not modernize.

“Modernize – it sounds nice, right? But what exactly does it mean?

“It means new nuclear warheads, nuclear-armed submarines, land-based missiles, and bomber aircraft, some of which are proposed to be deployed through the 2080s.

“It means smaller, more precise weapons that many argue can be considered more ‘usable’ on the battlefield, lowering the threshold for nuclear weapons use.

“It means many of our country’s top scientific minds will be focused on mass destruction.

“Now imagine a world in which the U.S., and the world’s other eight nuclear-armed nations, directed their nuclear weapons funding instead to address human needs.

“We could provide tens of thousands of scholarships for young people to attend college. I see quite a few people here tonight who are probably thinking that’s a really good idea.

“We could transform our fossil fuel economy in order to stave off the worst effects of manmade climate change.

“We could pay for more teachers and even pay them what they’re worth – My daughter’s elementary school, right here in Santa Barbara, might have to lay off its librarian this year.

“I could probably name one trillion ways in which this money would be better spent, but the point is this. If the U.S. doesn’t stop modernizing and take seriously its legal – not to mention moral – obligations to negotiate in good faith for nuclear disarmament, neither will the other eight nations. We’ve got to work toward total, global nuclear disarmament.

“At NAPF, we never lose sight of our mission of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. We also actively oppose each nuclear modernization program as it rears its ugly head in Congress. There is no up/down vote on whether to spend a trillion dollars. It comes in many pieces over many years, and we need your support to keep it from moving ahead.

“Sign up for our action alert network at or at our information table near the exit doors. Share the info from our website or that you pick up here with your friends and family.

“Will we modernize our nuclear weapons, or will we humanize our society and make the world a better place for everyone? We can’t have it both ways.”


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