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Hubris Versus Wisdom

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Humankind must not be complacent in the face of the threat posed by nuclear weapons.  The future of humanity and all life depends upon the outcome of the ongoing struggle between hubris and wisdom.

Hubris is an ancient Greek word meaning extreme arrogance. Wisdom is cautionary good sense.

Hubris is at the heart of Greek tragedy – the arrogant belief that one’s power is unassailable.  Wisdom counsels that no human fortress is impregnable.

Hubris says some countries can hold onto nuclear weapons and rely upon them for deterrence.  Wisdom, in the voice of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, says these weapons must be eliminated before they eliminate us.

Hubris says these weapons of annihilation are subject to human control.  Wisdom says that humans are fallible creatures, subject to error.

Hubris repeats that we can control our most dangerous technologies.  Wisdom says look at what has happened in numerous accidents with nuclear weapons as well as accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Hubris says the spread of nuclear weapons can be contained.  Wisdom says that the only sure way to prevent the spread or use of nuclear weapons is to abolish those that now exist.

Hubris says that political leaders will always be rational and avoid the use of nuclear weapons.  Wisdom observes that all humans, including political leaders, behave irrationally at times under some circumstances.

Hubris says we can play nuclear roulette with the human future.  Wisdom says we have a responsibility to assure there is a human future.

Hubris says that we can control nuclear fire.  Wisdom says nuclear weapons will spark wildfires of human suffering and must be eradicated forever from the planet.

The Nuclear Age demands that we conquer complacency with compassion and hubris with wisdom.


David Krieger
David Krieger
David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He is the author and editor of many books on peace and nuclear weapons abolition, including "Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action."

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