Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Road to Freedom, The Road to Peace

Upon reaching Birmingham, Alabama, we were greeted by warm sunshine and a haunting stillness in the heart of the vibrant city. With a group of five other students, we entered our history of discrimination and segregation at Kelly Ingram Park. While our trip was focused specifically on racial issues and reconciliation the parallels to peace in the nuclear age were very real.

It’s hard to imagine that at one point in time, this beautiful place was all but beautiful. Smoke filled the sky, people ran amuck, as police dogs and billy-clubs met innocent marchers at Kelly Ingram Park. These people knew the risks of their participation in nonviolent protests. They knew they could die and lose it all. However, they also knew that morally they could wait no longer for justice. A placard with the words of Anne Frank reads, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

These words sting me, when I look at my generation. I wonder if we know the cost of the peace that we have, I wonder if anyone still believes it’s worth it. The popular John Mayer song “Waiting on the World to change” comes to mind. We see injustice and room for improvement, but we continue to wait. What are we waiting for? Our world, this generation is starving for peace. But if our generation continues to walk between complacency and apathy, I have no doubt that we'll keep waiting, waiting, waiting on the world to change.

Adjacent to the park is the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four little girls were killed by a bomb on September 15, 1963. This event woke up the world to the human atrocities happening in the city nicknamed “Bombingham”, and made them see the evil that was being perpetrated. The victims in Nagasaki and Hiroshima know all too well the devastation that bombs cause, as do the people of our own country. Why then do we continue to allow the use and testing of bombs and ballistic missiles? These young girls are a testimony to the precious life we’re all deserving of, but that bombs, nuclear weapons and WMD’s indiscriminately take away.

Whether a bomb is placed under a building, dropped from above, or launched off of a submarine vehicle, it is wrong and dangerous. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was signed but still hasn't been ratified by the US, and the military continues to test its nuclear delivery vehicles. How many more little girls will have to die until we pursue another path to peace? When will we stop waiting for the world to change?


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