Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Are You Supporting the Continued Proliferation of Illegal Nuclear Weapons?

In March of this year the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, of which the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is a member, published a report called Don’t Bank on the Bomb. The report looks at the role of investment in the global nuclear infrastructure, both by the nations who are proliferating and modernizing the weapons and their delivery systems as well as the banks, finance, and investment management groups who not only make this obscene industry possible, but in many cases tie each and every one of us into a dirty business with world ending potential. I dare you to look at the report and find out how your money is financing nuclear weapons.

You didn’t look did you? Let me give you a brief sampling of some American financial institutions who are involved: AIG, American Express, Allstate, Bank of America, Citi, Farmers Insurance, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Knights of Columbus, Morgan Stanley, Northwestern Mutual, State Farm, and Wells Fargo. That is just a brief sample of the 322 institutions identified by the report1.

I am sure you are feeling the same way right now as I did yesterday when I first looked over the report…I am supporting the continued proliferation of illegal nuclear weapons. Chances are, looking at how our society is entrenched in these companies, you are too. Knowing this the question becomes-what will I do about it? Note that the question is not what can I do, but rather what will I do. This is because from this second forward you are intentionally going to make a choice to fight against the continued militarization of our world or stand by as impressively more destructive and dehumanizing nuclear devices are created with your money.

If you decide to do nothing, to believe the lie that, “I can’t change this,” then you are just like every other apathetic individual that lives a life which is the antithesis of democracy. If you decide to do nothing, you are just like every politician who voted to approve the federal budget which allotted $61.3 billion dollars in nuclear expenditures in 20111 while 46.2 million Americans live below the poverty line2. If you decide to do nothing, you are just another member of the indifferent mass who said slavery couldn’t be ended and women would never get the right to vote.

If you join me and decide to wage peace, not just for the sake of our consciences but in an action to create a more peaceful world, then I see two possible actions. First, you can take your investments, savings, and financial transactions out of the blood drenched fingers of the nuclear establishment, effectively taking your support out from behind their actions and away from the companies they are financing. In the late eighties and early nineties a boycott of General Electric led to the company moving out of the nuclear weapons business1. You can make a difference just by moving your money. The second option is to call on the institutions to divest. Be it through letters, phone calls, or personal meetings it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Not only will the issue begin working its way up the chain of command to the people who can make a difference in the investment choices of the institution, but the conversations you have with each person along the way, all the way down to the basic bank teller, spreads the message of peace and instills in them the knowledge that people are working to make a difference. With each person you talk to we come a little closer to destroying the little lie that, “I can’t change this.”

I hope you heed my advice and take a stand, most of all though, I hope you follow in the footsteps of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and don’t bank on the bomb.
1 “Don’t Bank on the Bomb,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. March 2012.
2 Tavernise, Sabrina, “Soaring Poverty Casts Spotlight on ‘Lost Decade’,” The New York Times. September 13, 2011.

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