I recently received a letter from the Mayor of Hiroshima as I am a member of the “Mayors for Peace” organization. In asking for assistance in his quest for ridding the world of nuclear weapons, he pointed out the following:

“For a time in the late 1980s and early 90s, it appeared that we were moving in the right direction. The Cold War ended amid deep reductions in nuclear weaponry and a moratorium on nuclear testing. It seemed we would at last take down the words of Damocles hanging over our heads for so long.

Unfortunately the culture of war has launched a powerful counterattack. Rather than reducing military spending and shifting funding toward the alleviation of human suffering, governments around the world appear to be increasing military budgets. In the wake of September 11, we appear to be more convinced than ever that the answer to violence is more killing”.

I appreciate his wise words and his commitment to the cause. As the memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sit with us over the next few days, your presence acknowledges the importance of learning from the past and creating urgency today in calling for a nuclear-free future.

Fifty-eight years have passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it seems we have not learned many lessons from the past.

  • The White House has issued an academic-sounding report called the “Nuclear Posture Review” that views nuclear weapons as viable, tactical tools of war.
  • The Bush Administration has called for resumption of underground nuclear testing and funds to rebuild the Nevada test site.
  • While our armed forces search in vain for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, our administration quietly seeks the repeal of a restriction on the development of so-called “mini-nukes”. What makes our own weapons of mass destruction so much safer and moral when human lives are in the balance?
  • From an environmental standpoint, the US Senate just passed a bill which seeks deployment of nuclear reactors and reprocessing of nuclear waste.

For many of our friends and neighbors, it is easy to ignore what is going on in the world with the pressures of daily life and the fact that we live in a city as beautiful as Santa Barbara. Your presence here today, however, brings focus, attention and intention to a problem that must be addressed. To cast a wider net, why not talk to a friend or two tomorrow about what you did today and tell them why you came…. Thank you all for attending.