The choice today is nonviolence or nonexistence. 
The alternative to disarmament may well be a civilization 
plunged into the abyss of annihilation.—Martin Luther King, Jr.  

By Mary Hladky

On Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, peace-loving activists joined together to support the elimination of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. Specifically, PeaceWorks-Kansas City gathered to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty) in conjunction with 200 events across the country.

Bennette Dibben wears her warning, a hazmat suit.

The slide show below depicts our rally of 30 persons at Mill Creek Park in KC MO before our hour-long caravan of 16+ cars. With signs big and little, we declared, “Nuclear weapons are illegal!”

Ann Suellentrop, our resident expert on nuclear weapons, informed us 59 countries have ratified the Ban Treaty, and two NATO countries, Norway and Germany, plan to attend the first Ban Treaty Review Conference in Austria this March. Even though the US has not yet signed the Ban Treaty, it doesn’t mean it won’t affect the US. “The moral force of the Ban Treaty is being felt,” said Ann, noting that all 3,900 “on alert” nuclear weapons in the US stockpile have been declared unlawful by the international community.

Brother Louis Rodemann calls the US budget immoral; from each the discretionary budget dollar, the US spends 53 cents on the military and only 15 cents on anti-poverty programs. The banner behind asks people to join PeaceWorks to abolish nuclear weapons.

Ann said the nuclear Doomsday Clock remains stuck at 100 seconds to midnight for the third straight year due to the world’s second nuclear arms race currently in progress, the climate emergency, and the automated and hypersonic weapons being developed.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb reports that the number of banks, pension funds, asset managers and insurance companies investing in the production of nuclear weapons is going down. Ann shared information on Honeywell, the company that operates our nuclear bomb parts plant here in KC MO. The five US banks that have invested the highest amounts in Honeywell are Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America. Our caravan honked and hollered its way past several Bank of America and Citibank sites.

In anticipation of President Biden’s soon-to-be US Nuclear Posture Review prepared by the Department of Defense, Veterans for Peace published its own Nuclear Posture Review.  Ken Mayers, a retired Marine Corps major, stated, “Nuclear weapons are a threat to the very existence of human civilization. … so the US nuclear posture is too important to be left to the cold warriors at the Pentagon.”

Ann said that on Jan. 11, Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico sent a pastoral letter in support of nuclear weapons abolition and the Ban Treaty to all the parishes in his diocese. This is a bold, prophetic statement as the nearby Los Alamos Nuclear Lab was the site of the invention of the first nuclear bomb, and New Mexico has perhaps the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world at Kirtland AFB near Albuquerque.

The next speaker at our rally was Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, who has spent his life in service to the poor and disenfranchised in Kansas City. Louis spoke about the violence of poverty and the immorality of a budget that spends 53 cents of every federal discretionary dollar on the military while only 15 cents is spent on anti-poverty programs. Clearly it is time to reprioritize our spending so that people and all living things can thrive. Louis invited us to personally consider Pax Christi’s Vow of Nonviolence  in resisting evil and abolishing war and the causes of war.

“We the People of Kansas City challenge this system of nuclear death and global destruction,” says Henry Stoever.

Henry Stoever, a co-chair of PeaceWorks, reminded us that we are living in a revolution where nuclear death, extermination and global destruction are being seriously challenged by the peoples of the world. We the People of Kansas City are finding our voices to challenge this system of nuclear death and global destruction, said Henry. “Our very souls, hearts and minds cry out to stop this insanity.” This goes to the core of being a nonviolent people, longing for justice and peace for all.

As Ann reminded us in her closing words, “It’s true that no one can change the world all alone, but everyone can do something!”

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—Mary Hladky is vice president of the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors. ©2022 Mary Hladky, Ann Suellentrop, Henry Stoever, Louis Rodemann, Jim Hannah, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.