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16.10.2020 – Pressenza Athens

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The Courage of Non-Violence against the Madness of Nuclear Arms

By Nikos Stergiou

On July 7, 2017, an almost decade-long, non-violent international mobilization of organizations and entities achieved one of the greatest victories of organized civil society at an international diplomatic level. It was the day that the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted by 2/3 of the member countries of the United Nations. Three years later, it has already been signed by 84 states, 46 of which have ratified it. There remain only 4 more for it to come into force.

It took a vast campaign and the mobilization of organizations, entities and citizens during more than a decade to achieve this result. This coordinated effort led to the creation of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. From the beginning of the struggle, the principles of the process for a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons were established, based on the ethics of non-violence: the use of nuclear weapons is immoral, absolute and indiscriminate due to the uncontrollable magnitude of the catastrophe they cause to mankind and the environment. Also, the vast financial resources which are needed for the maintenance of 13,000+ nuclear warheads approached $73 billion in 2019. These funds could be channeled towards public services – Health, Education, Protection of the Environment and Quality of Life.

From the date when it comes into force, TPNW prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transporting, possessing, storing, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons or allow the deployment of nuclear weapons on their territory. It also forbids them from assisting, encouraging or inciting anyone to participate in any of these activities. It is a question of “the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons”.

The 9 countries which currently possess nuclear weapons have not signed or ratified TPNW. Quite a few of them did not even participate in the discussions at the UN on the final text. In Europe, only 6 countries have signed and ratified TPNW, three of them from the EU. Greece did not participate in the discussions on the final text of TPNW, abstained from voting on its approval, and has not signed or ratified the final text, noting that it is one of the 21 countries bound by individual agreements or treaties (e.g. NATO) to host nuclear warheads if needed.

Within this insanity of the ‘usefulness’ of nuclear weapons and their delusional defense, especially by the states which possess them, the call for the ratification of TPNW by those states which have not yet done so continues. Since nuclear weapons were designed to destroy cities, local communities and municipalities all over the world play an important role in raising the question of human (if not planetary) survival. With great joy, the international community which supports TPNW accepted into its fold the first two municipalities from Greece which signed the petition addressed to the Greek Government to ratify TPNW. The municipalities of Ancient Olympia and Ayios Evstratios lead the way with courage for other municipalities in our country so that Greece will unite with whichever countries struggle for a world without the fear of a nuclear catastrophe.

The “World without Wars and Violence” movement, as an international partner of ICAN, calls upon other municipalities to follow the example of Ancient Olympia and Ayios Evstratios and create a strong movement in Greece to push for the ratification of TPNW by the Greek Government. The time has come for us to put an end to nuclear weapons before they put an end to humanity.

*Nikos Stergiou is the president of the Greek branch of the organization “World without Wars and Violence”.

Translation by Jeannette Arduino, from the voluntary Pressenza translation team. We are looking for volunteers!

Happy birthday to William Penn, born in 1644.Penn was born to a military father, but became a Quaker as a young man.Because his father was an admiral and a ‘Sir,’ William had the right (which ‘commoners’ did not) to wear a sword. Quakers were not only pacifists, but also did not recognize differing status among people and eschewed emblems of rank. William, as a Quaker, began to doubt whether the wearing of a sword was something he should continue to do. He asked George Fox, the founder of the Quaker faith and his mentor, whether he should wear it or stop wearing it.Fox’s answer, famously, was, “Wear it as long as thou canst.”(I love that.) William soon took off his sword, never to wear it again.And yes, he was the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, the land of which was granted to him as payment of a debt from the Crown to his (deceased) father. He treated the Lenape people who land it was with fairness and respect, including negotiating his use of the land, and maintained good relations with the First Peoples.He fathered 16 children (with two successive wives), only 5 of whom achieved actual adulthood.Things didn’t always go very well for him, and one of his children was a disappointment to the extend to causing financial devastation to the family. His two sons who ‘inherited’ Pennsylvania after his death completely dismantled the Quakerly government and policies, and made it into a commercial and intolerant state. However, Quaker influence continues to exist there.Penn was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, became a classic of Christian theological literature.Penn returned to England with his second wife, where he lived out his life and was buried at Jordans Meetinghouse. That Meetinghouse is still a place of Quaker worship. Penn is buried there, next to his first wife.[As far as I know, he never grew an oat. Quaker Oats has NOTHING AT ALL to do with Quakers, though it is said that the ‘standing Quaker man’ of that company’s logo is based on Penn’s appearance.]

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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