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August 5, 2004

Remembering Hiroshima at Los Alamos

Nestled in the beautiful desert hills near Santa Fe , New Mexico is the mother of all weapons of mass destruction, the birthplace of the bomb-- Los Alamos . Hundreds of us will mark the sad 59th anniversary of the August 6th atomic bombing of Hiroshima by lining the main road into the town of Los Alamos , holding our peace signs and praying for an end to war and nuclear weapons. It remains important for thousands to protest each November at the "School of the Americas " in Fort Benning , Georgia , as well as the demonstrations at the political conventions. But this is the headquarters of nuclear terrorism, and more and more of us need to face it squarely.

The Labs have been closed for several weeks now because of missing computer disks. But in general, business at Los Alamos is booming. The Bush Administration's proposed 2005 budget is the largest nuclear weapons budget in history, even though the Cold war is over and there's no other nuclear superpower. Along with New Mexico 's Sandia Labs, Los Alamos is the largest nuclear weapons laboratory in the world. During our vigil, we will demand that those billions be spent instead on schools, jobs, homes, healthcare, medicine for HIV/AIDS, environmental cleanup and food for the starving masses.

The Bush Administration sent 150,000 U.S. soldiers over 10,000 miles into the desert of Iraq to kill some 10,000 Iraqis supposedly to find and dismantle a weapon of mass destruction, and now everyone knows that our government lied to us, that there never were any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that the whole war was an effort by Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld to steal Iraq's oil for our oil companies, but we will point out to everyone concerned about weapons of mass destruction that we've found them. They're right here in our backyard in Los Alamos ! We go to Los Alamos to say: Get rid of them! Abolish every one of them.

We name these weapons of mass destruction as immoral, sinful, evil and demonic, and call for an end to the production, development and maintenance of these weapons of mass destruction. If Los Alamos can't keep track of a few computer disks, they certainly can't be trusted with weapons of mass destruction; no one can. These weapons do not make us safer or more secure or protect us. Instead, they make the whole world more dangerous. We need to get rid of every nuclear weapon once and for all.

The nuclear age started here; it needs to end here. We want to end New Mexico 's long, ugly nuclear history, and create a new New Mexico without nuclear weapons, a land of nonviolence. So we will call upon every employee at Los Alamos to quit their job making nuclear weapons and to find alternative, life-giving work.

There is a lot of talk this week about terror alerts, heightened security and Homeland Security guarding Wall Street and New York Banks. But I'd like to tell Homeland Security that we have discovered thousands of people building enormous weapons of mass destruction, in the world's largest nuclear weapons facility, the envy of every terrorist, and hope that Homeland Security will go there quickly and close it down. That may sound funny or strident, but what is really shocking is how normal and acceptable nuclear terrorism has become. Most people do not think building nuclear weapons is an act of  terrorism, but we name it as the ultimate terrorism. As Philip Berrigan said, we hold the world hostage with these weapons.

Most employees at Los Alamos are church-goers, so those of us who are Christian will explain that as followers of the nonviolent Jesus, we are forbidden to support war and commanded to "put down the sword" and "love our enemies." We can't serve both the God of peace and the false gods of nuclear weapons. We can't follow the nonviolent Jesus on one hand, and work at Los Alamos, pay for Los Alamos or support Los Alamos on the other hand.

We go to Los Alamos as people of faith to say that war is not the will of God; war is never blessed by God; war is the ultimate mortal sin; war is never justified; war is immoral; war is demonic; war is evil; war is anti-democratic, anti-human, anti-life and anti-God; war can never end terrorism because war is terrorism; war is not the way to serve humanity or deepen the spiritual life or find God. The God of peace calls us to repent of the sin of war, to beat our swords into plowshares and to live in peace with every human being on the planet. We will uphold the vision of nonviolence from the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Dorothy Day, that peaceful means are the only way to a peaceful future and the God of peace.

Our country is in massive denial about Hiroshima . We have never dealt with it. Instead we ignore it and pretend it didn't happen. Tomorrow we will try to look deeply at Hiroshima , to meditate on it, to see it as the ultimate evil, and to recognize that everyone of us has to take responsibility for it, that we can no longer be neutral or silent or quiet about it. As I reflect on Hiroshima , I realize we can no longer just try to be good, with this much evil in our backyard. We have to speak out against this institutionalized evil; otherwise our silence is complicity. We have to break through the culture of nuclear terrorism and the necessary silence that allows it to flourish.

A few days after Hiroshima and Nagasaki , Gandhi said flatly: "The atom bomb brought an empty victory to the Allied armies. It resulted for the time being in destroying Japan . What has happened to the soul of the destroying nation is yet too early to see." Today, we as a people are losing our soul because of our commitment to these weapons of mass destruction.

At Los Alamos, we will remember Hiroshima and pledge that it never happens again, and in the process, regain our soul.

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