News

TMC DIRECTOR REFLECTS ON ROOTS OF NUCLEAR THREAT

by Gabriel McMorland

In recent weeks, my mind drifts often from summertime walks and raspberry sunsets into the shadow cast on us all by the growing threat of global nuclear war. I wander from the current trial of the Kings Bay Seven, to our own small witnessing at PNC Bank, to TMC founder Molly Rush’s spiritual commitment together with the Plowshares Eight, to the anti-nuclear mass mobilizations that happened only in my increasingly- distant childhood. I’m sharing my own inadequate reflections now in the hopes that you will respond with your own views.

Together, we’ve laced the world with seeds of nuclear death, ready to blossom into doomsday flowers burning any imagined hope or purpose into flakes of ash. Nuclear weapons emerged as the poison fruit of centuries of oppression, a toxic bramble sticky with the blood of profit and rooted deeply in the lies told to children for generations. I myself simply cannot comprehend the nuclear threat outside the reality of white supremacy, violent patriarchy, and over 500 years of colonialism.

We do not live among a nuclear arsenal because people love war and worship flags, or because Pentagon number crunchers were reckless, or even because humans love machines sometimes more than life itself. A growing nuclear threat remains the inevitable destination of a culture of violent domination and tightly concentrated power.

We all know power cannot concentrate without stealing freedom from many people through brutal institutions and everyday violations of dignity or safety. For generations, we’ve saturated ourselves and each other with deep set lies denying this reality of violent power.

Of course, some people always held the flames of truth, especially anti-colonial movements, black liberation struggles, and indigenous resistance. The more power and privilege we hold in society, the more lies we tend to swallow.

I offer humble admiration to all those called to witness against nuclear doom, and I hope with urgency that we will dig to find the roots of this threat. Let’s tear through the brambles in our own minds to consider our own role in a society so imbalanced that we’ve nearly ensured our own destruction. I see no path to redemption from nuclear weapons without the intertwined liberation of all people from patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and other systems trying to rob humanity and squeeze it into poisoned privileges for myself and others.

For now, I leave you with a quote I find inspiring from Clare Grady of the Kings Bay Seven, “The weapons of empire are always the threat of death and torture and incarceration and dehumanization. And so, when we undertake this, as white people of privilege, we are just adding a little tiny bit to what is ongoing of the struggle of people, where the Doomsday Clock has already hit midnight for them and their children and their grandchildren and the Earth where they live.”

Thank you for reading, and I’d love to know your own thoughts.

Gabriel McMorland serves as Director of the Thomas Merton Center, and finds himself with far more questions than answers.

Originally published in VOL 49 No. 7, September 2019

Categories: News

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