The turning of a year is always a good time to take stock of where we are and to look for lessons of the past that may guide us into the future. Here are a few thoughts as we enter this New Year.

We share a single, beautiful Earth, the only place we know of in the universe that supports the miracle of life.

We are one people, one great humanity, capable of cooperating to turn this planet into a paradise for all.

We may have different histories, but we share a common future. We will rise or fall together.

By the greed and lack of care and vision that is integral to our current economic system, we are poisoning our Earth, destroying other species at a prodigious rate, and foreclosing possibilities for future generations of humans, including our own children and grandchildren.

We have penetrated the power of the atom and created technologies capable of destroying most life on Earth, including human life. Our current world order, based upon nuclear “haves” and “have-nots,” is not sustainable.

Life has existed on Earth for some four billion years, and in just a matter of decades, hardly a tick on the geological clock, we humans have placed the continuation of life in jeopardy.

Albert Einstein warned: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

And yet, we have chosen leaders myopic in vision and committed to military solutions that have placed humanity on a collision course with catastrophe.

With this leadership, we are abrogating our responsibility to humanity as a whole and to future generations.

The challenge to humanity is to come together to end the great disparities and ill will that divide us and find a way that all individuals can live with dignity.

We can start by recognizing that we are all citizens of Earth with corresponding rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with corresponding responsibilities. Among these responsibilities are:

  • To end the continuing threat to humanity of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
  • To redirect scientific and economic resources from the destructive pursuit of weapons technologies to the beneficial tasks of ending hunger, disease, poverty and ignorance.
  • To break down barriers that divide people and nations and, by acts of friendship, reduce tensions and suspicions.
  • To live gently on the Earth, reclaiming and preserving the natural beauty and profound elegance of our land, mountains, oceans and sky.
  • And to teach others, by our words and deeds, to accept all members of the human family and to love the Earth and live with peace and justice upon it.

Our starting point is to put aside our apathy, complacency and cynicism and to choose hope, hope that leads to engagement. It is only by our hope and in our actions that the world will change.
*David Krieger is the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the co-author of Choose Hope, Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age (Middleway Press, 2002).