SATURDAY, APRIL 16 IS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW FUTURE!
Nonviolence knows no boundaries. Its power is compelling because it is rooted in the deepest truth—we are bound by our desire for justice and peace. Nonviolence knows that justice is indivisible, and peace is possible for me only if you know peace as well. We were deeply moved to watch it on the streets of Cairo as young people laid hold of the possibility of a different future. They gave themselves fearlessly to that future; they faced down thugs; they persevered in the face of history; they remained disciplined through violence and adversity, and they created hope where there had been none.
What happened in Tunisia and Cairo, and what is unfolding in the streets of Bahrain and even in Libya, where the dark forces of violence are struggling to fend off the challenge, took the world by surprise—but only because the world sets its clock to the rising and setting of violence.
Could it happen here?
If the truth of nonviolence can not be contained in national boundaries, then is it even possible that young people, motivated by the power of the possible, could shape the future of their own country? Could they, if they dream of a world free of nuclear weapons, create that world by confronting the old regime, morally bankrupt, motivated by fear, desperately clinging to the old currency of power, nuclear weapons and bloated military machines?
A Safer World is Our Right
On April 16, 2011, young people and believers of all ages will gather in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, home of the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex, to lay hold of the arc of the moral universe that Theodore Parker first described in the 1850s, and by the weight and the power of their dreams, bend the arc toward justice and peace.
Events on Saturday, April 16 will begin with a brief gathering rally at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge (at the corner of Tulane Ave and the Oak Ridge Turnpike, behind the Civic Center) at 1:00pm. At 1:20 we will set out on a march from the park to the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex, where we will enjoy a concert for disarmament—music and spoken word—and join in a nonviolent action for peace.
The day’s program is being planned by a committee of young people from the Knoxville area; it will be designed to be inclusive of everyone, family friendly, and promises to be a powerful declaration of an alternative vision of the future at the gates of a weapons plant dedicated to the destruction of the planet.
The Right Time
The National Nuclear Security Administration is on the verge of releasing its plan to build a new $6.5 BILLION bomb plant at Y12 to replace aging facilities and to expand the capacity of the United States to produce nuclear weapons. It is likely the plan will be released in March, the gathering in April will send a message to the federal government. The power of our message will be simple numbers, political power in its most basic form: there is no single thing you can do that will be more effective in delivering your message of opposition than showing up on April 16.
The proposed new bomb plant—the Uranium Processing Facility—is a provocative and dangerously wrong-headed idea; it undermines US efforts to constrain the proliferation of nuclear weapons. How can we have any credibility when talking about Iran’s nuclear ambitions when we are investing billions and billions of dollars in new weapons production facilities?
The April Action—A Safer World Is Our Right—recognizes that nuclear weapons make the world a more dangerous place. Not just other countries’ nuclear weapons, but ours as well—maybe especially ours, since we have 5,900 and are the only nation to have used nuclear weapons on a civilian population. The work happening at Y12 right now, life extension upgrades on the W76 warhead, contradicts our promise in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, ratified in 1969, to pursue complete disarmament “at an early date.” When the US does “life extensions” on its nuclear weapons it tells the world that nukes will remain the currency of power for the next century.
Every One Who Believes
It was not simply the power of the dream, the careful preparation, the commitment to nonviolence, and the persistence of their witness that enabled the activists in Tahir Square to re-create their world. It was also the power of a mass movement. What began as students soon included everyone who believed, and as more and more believed and came out, their triumph became inevitable.
So it will be when the movement for nuclear abolition comes to maturity—and the table has been set and is ready. Groups and organizations around the world have been educating and organizing as OREPA has for years.
What we need is for everyone who believes to take the next step. Set aside what you are doing on April 16 and come to Oak Ridge. If you are only coming to stand with young people, come—they need you. The future needs you, and no one can take your place. If you leave it to someone else, and they leave it to someone else, our children are left wondering where we were when we could have stopped the new bomb plant.
It’s Our Action—all of us, including You
How much would you like to see the world transformed into a place where nuclear weapons are relegated to the recesses of memory, thought of as a dark moment in history when our science outstripped our morality and we walked to the bring of self-annihilation?
Would you like to see it enough to organize a carful of people to come to Oak Ridge? Would you be willing to assemble a group of friends, family or neighbors in your home and invite a speaker from OREPA—or show them a video and tell them about the ways they can be involved? Would you be willing to help organize?
OREPA is preparing an organizer’s packet which we will post on-line in the next week (www.orepa.org), and we are hearing from people in Asheville and Michigan that they are preparing to come. We will be spreading out as far as we can to tell people about the action, but we need to multiply our reach, and you can help.
If you are ready to act, let us know. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll do whatever we can to support you.
And we’ll come together on April 16 to write another page in the remarkable history of 2011, the year the world changed, and of the nonviolent people power that made it happen.
The End of the Story?
The planned program for A Safer World Is Our Right will be over by 5:00 on Saturday, April 16. But the movement will not. Some may stay in Oak Ridge, at the bomb plant, to demand their government give them the future they have a right to. And others will continue to work, to build community, to practice nonviolence, to organize resistance, to raise awareness, to forge alliances—because we believe the world will one day look at April 2011 as the moment the history of nuclear weapons turned toward sanity and hope. And believing, we will work to make it so.
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