We must acknowledge that our quibbling over the risks and ills of nuclear disarmament can and will only bring us closer to D-Day, perhaps a moment beyond.

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In 1945, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the end of World War II and the beginning of a dialogue on whether or not that massive destruction of innocent lives would have exceeded a like slaughter of an extended war, an argument that lingers still. Unfortunately, that fury drowned out the only discourse that could have outweighed it in import — the beginning of the reality of possible extinction-level nuclear proliferation.

It was an easy omission. It didn’t seem to be an imminent threat. We could tell ourselves it might never happen. We had more immediate and pressing matters at the moment. Most of all, we hadn’t even the least idea of how to address it. All of that has categorically and dramatically changed.

For us to continue wishing this monster away is to turn our naked bellies to the horns of an enraged bull. Extinction-level nuclear warfare is possible. It is available and, worst of all, we have seen and heard the ravings of powerful fanatics that favor it over political capitulation and stand prepared to rain irretrievable destruction upon our heads and their own. Absolutely nothing can be perceived as more immediate or pressing.

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We even find ourselves in a new place on the issue of how to address the problem. It is here now, and we must do so or perish. We must acknowledge that our quibbling over the risks and ills of nuclear disarmament can and will only bring us closer to D-Day, perhaps a moment beyond. The question is still what shall we do. The answer is now whatever we have to and soon. Notice there are no ifs in that sentence.

We Homo sapiens have been around a very long time, about a half of a million years or so in our current shape. Unfortunately, that status has given us a tendency to think of ourselves as permanent. A better outlook right now is that astronomy tells us nothing lasts forever, people, planet or star. Our choice is whether to last a few million more years or a few more months, days or maybe even minutes.