Who can we trust during these new wars of the world?

Beatrice Fihn and Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow

Today in The Japan Times,  Michael Hoffman wrote:

Swords into ploughshares. Spears into pruning hooks. Three thousand-odd years ago, when civilization was rough and passions raw, an extraordinary visionary saw peace dawning. His words, recorded in the Biblical book of Isaiah, transcend religious denomination and national affiliation. They belong to all mankind: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift sword against nation. … The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.”

If prophecy implies prediction, Isaiah’s has fared badly. The swords are sharper than ever. In March, as nations struggled to negotiate a global treaty to ban the deadliest of them, Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, snapped, “Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?”

Probably there is no one who thinks that. Still, the treaty was negotiated and adopted in July. In October, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts on behalf of nuclear disarmament.

…Onstage in Oslo with Beatrice Fihn was ICAN activist and Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow. She shared harrowing memories: “Processions of ghostly figures shuffled by. Grotesquely wounded people, they were bleeding, burned, blackened and swollen. … Some with their eyeballs hanging in their hands. Some with their bellies burst open, their intestines hanging out.”

Of nuclear weapons, she said, “These weapons are not a necessary evil; they are the ultimate evil.” Of the adoption of the treaty banning them, she said, “Having witnessed humanity at its worst, I witnessed, that day (on which the treaty was adopted) humanity at its best.”

Swords into ploughshares. Would a nuclear-free world be a peaceful world? One would have to ignore a vast, deadly, global, non-nuclear arsenal to presume it would.

You can read his entire post here.

Author: Michael Hoffman is a fiction and nonfiction writer who has lived in Hokkaido by the sea almost as long as he can remember. He has been contributing regularly to The Japan Times for 10 years. His latest novel is “The Naked Ear” (VBW/Blackcover Books, 2012).

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