Defense Secretary Mattis, we petition you to take the high road. Be the military voice of reason. Stop the threat of nuclear annihilation.
DEFENSE Secretary James Mattis and I attended Columbia High in Richland, our atomic hometown. My brother was in his class of ’68, and they might have played on the same Bombers sports teams.
By the time I graduated in ’69, I already was fed up with warfare (Vietnam) and atomic bombs in particular. Those duck-and-cover Cold War drills in elementary school are worthy of a dark-humored laugh now. As if we would have had time to file calmly out into the hallway after a reactor meltdown at a Hanford plant, a mere 35 miles away on the Columbia River. It was the mighty river that was used and abused in the manufacturing of plutonium for atomic bombs, and we drank from its contaminated waters that flushed through our household pipes.
Back then, we didn’t have the protection of whistle blowers exposing the safety violations, and lack of concern over disposal and permanent storage of radioactive waste. There is no safe, permanent storage of nuclear waste and there may never be.
Got something to say about a topic in the news? We’re looking for personal essays with strong opinions. Send your submission of no more than 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “My Take.”
Injustices began early in our community as local farmers and Native Americans were evicted from the area now known as the Hanford Site without rightful compensation. Scientists and engineers (many of our parents) were recruited and imported to the middle of a nowhere desert in Eastern Washington.
Our new high school gym floor featured a logo of an atomic bomb detonating with the infamous mushroom cloud above.
A niece, who also grew up in Richland, is now an environmental scientist and has dedicated her career to inventing new techniques and tools to clean up military waste. No matter how rapidly technology develops to mop up the mess, it will never outpace the relentless production of weaponry. Extinction of humanity comes to mind.
When North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb underground on Sept. 3, its neighbors in China thought they experienced an earthquake. I, too, felt a shudder — sitting on my couch in Seattle watching another clip on public television about ex-Hanford workers continuing to protest for rightful compensations regarding their debilitating and deadly diseases as a result of their work. They are the exposed expendables, along with other vulnerable humans caught in the fray of unconscionable world leaders.
What is a viable option to weapons of mass destruction? How about this proposal? Every time world leaders meet, they are supervised by a highly skilled, culturally, racially and gender diverse group of psychotherapists. This team will strive to bring collective unconscious shadow into the light. These therapists will have the authority to intervene during displays of individual narcissism. They will be able to veto behavior more indicative of an arrested adolescence than mature governance, before it transmutes into malignant narcissism and infects us all.
We, the people of our beautiful planet, have had enough of annihilating, ego-driven power plays. We request an end to all nuclear weapons — now. We are choosing to steer by the compass of our hearts, invoking compassion for all, regardless of country, race or religious orientation. The entire human race is in this together, Secretary Mattis. We petition you to take the high road. Be the military voice of reason.
Your former, still glowing in the dark, schoolmate.