By Ann Suellentrop
I and 300 others were able to attend, in person, the July 16 interfaith remembrance in Santa Fe, NM, about the world’s first nuclear bomb explosion on that date in 1945. Some 300 other persons joined the livestream of the event, A World Without Nuclear Weapons: From Reflection to Action—An Interfaith Remembrance of the Trinity Test. So 600 of us, including myself and Donna Constantineau from the KC area, experienced the event—fabulous! The afternoon gathering followed a 24-hour vigil at the Trinity Site, where the Manhattan Project tested the A-bomb.
I went around to all the informational booths about nuclear weapons. A nuclear bomb is about the size of a chair, and it can destroy a whole city. Terrible! Such an overlooked reality in our culture. It’s so deadly.
The basic fundamental point in my mind is that our human emotion, our character, our soul, is at the most crucial point of the evil of the bomb. That’s what has to change, develop, and evolve.
Father Emmanuel Charlie McCarthy, who started the 24-hour vigil at the Trinity Site more than 30 years ago, sent a homily for us to listen to. He talked about how evil the nuclear bomb is. It’s murder. God is the one who is saving us–that fundamental, basic, deep-down life force in us. We have to live in another way. We have to love one another, take care of and forgive one another.
A nuclear war could wipe out 5 billion people. Our human nature, fundamentally, has to evolve. Jesus came to bring us divine love that will save us. Look how many murders Kansas City experiences. That spirit of murder has to stop. The love has to grow, even to our so-called enemies.
Technologically, we’re so advanced. Morally, we’re babies. We need to grow up! The Los Alamos National Laboratory yearly budget is $10 billion, whereas the state budget is only $8 billion. New Mexico is dead last in education, dead last in child welfare. There’s something very wrong with that! Priorities are way skewed. We’ve got to take care of the basics.
New Mexico stores so many nuclear weaponsthat if the state were a country, it would be the country with the most nuclear weapons in the world. The Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are research and development centers for US nuclear weapons. Kirtland Air Force Base hosts Sandia and stores an estimated 2,500 nuclear warheads. The White Sands Test Center in New Mexico is where the first bomb was detonated in 1945 (at the Trinity Site), with many other tests following in the Nevada test site and in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
New Mexico is a minority majority state—whites are not a majority there. Speakers at the Santa Fe gathering said placing so much nuclear weapon activity in New Mexico is an extension of colonialism. Indigenous persons spoke of their people’s suffering from the bombs’ radioactivity. Tina Cordova, of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, spoke of Latinx people’s five generations of cancer.
One informational booth I visited had this quote: “Simply transferring the world’s nuclear weapons to a museum will not in itself bring about world peace. The nuclear weapons of the mind must first be eliminated.” This quote, from Mata Amrtanandamavi Devi, a Hindu spiritual leader, gives us the challenge facing us to save the world.
—Ann Suellentrop, MSRN, serves as a vice co-chair of PeaceWorks KC and as a leader in the local Physicians for Social Responsibility and the national Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.