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RANT FROM NOVBEMBER 1999
"Indulgence and Clarity"
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     Several years ago, at a meeting of the central core of
activists in CARD [Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive
Dumping], a debate raged about the proposition to add to the
policy statement of the organization one sentence, or a part of a
sentence really -- "...and to oppose all nuclear weapons in
principle."  The standing policy statement at that time simply
said that the organization opposed the unsafe dumping of nuclear
waste in New Mexico, and was aimed at WIPP, the Department of
Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
     Some of us thought the addition would be wise, since the
policy statement without the addition could be quickly and easily
dismissed as NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard].  The addition would
declare our opposition to the real motivation of the government
in its ardent desire to open WIPP, which was to allow for the
further development and manufacture of new "upgraded" nuclear
weapons.
     "What are nuclear weapons for?" we asked.  The original
justification of a deterrent, called MAD [Mutual Assured
Destruction] really was crazy, and the planet was lucky to have
survived that period.  But what are nuclear weapons for now, with
no Soviet Union to drop them on?  Who are we that angry at?  We
ought to state publicly our opposition to nuclear weapons.   They
are dangerous.  They are expensive.  They have no practical use. 
     Who are we afraid of?  Who have we injured and insulted so
badly that they are now so dangerous that we have to be ready to
irradiate them and millions of innocent bystanders, and given the
global nature of wind currents, our own selves?  Nuclear weapons
are obscene, insane, immoral, and a shame and disgrace to moral
people who are required to pay for them by paying taxes to the
government.
     The congressman from southern New Mexico, where WIPP is
located, and where the DOE has spent more than $2 billion
preparing WIPP, objects to our objection to the very idea of WIPP
and the transportation of transuranic waste over the open
highways of our country.  He stated, regarding our organization,
"They don't approve of nuclear weapons as such!"  He meant it as
a dismissal of all our concern and all our scientific data.
     We were delighted that he had finally grasped the meaning of
our protest.  "Well, at least he got that part right."  But there
was opposition within CARD to the notion of adding that half-
sentence to the policy statement.  Some wanted to enlist the
support of workers at Los Alamos National Laboratories and Sandia
Laboratories for our opposition to WIPP.  They did not think they
would get anywhere, if we stood against nuclear weapons on
principle, since those workers make their livings inventing the
bombs, or making them, or cleaning up after those who invent and
make them.  "It is indulgent," they said, "for us to want to be
philosophically pure and clear, when there is dirty political
work to be done in a world where such purity and clarity are not
available."
     I personally have become more convinced than ever that
clarity, and purity, too, is needed more than ever and more than
anything else.  Politicians lie all the time.  If we are going to
oppose them, entering the political arena where they are, are we
required to lie, also?  Not saying what we really think and
believe is a form of lying.  I happen to know about that.
     I have had too much experience working with the awareness
that what I really thought and felt and knew to be true was not
being made perfectly clear, not out front.  In those days it was
called "boring from within," and even "just like the French
underground -- smile at the Nazis all day and blow 'em up at
night."  It was ineffectual, and the personal sense of relief and
well-being that resulted when I quit acting in that role, proved
to me that, indulgent or not, clarity and honesty beat anything
else, including political astuteness.
     Who favors nuclear weapons?  Why?  Let's have a standing
vote.  Those who favor them because money can be made from them
need to be helped by whatever means to find clarity.  That
includes politicians.  It is not "an indulgence" to insist on
clarity, and to find it, and to help someone else find it.  Our
very lives depend on finding it, and finding it soon, and finding
it together.
     If finding out what is killing us and then banding together
to oppose it is indulgence, then let's make the most of it. 
Slaves are not indulgent when they oppose slavery, even though it
is dangerous to do so and some slaves do not do it.  It is not
indulgent, it is liberating, to see clearly who and what the
enemy is and then rise up and oppose and obstruct and break down
and change that which is destroying us.
                            *   *   *

Copyright © 1999 Harry Willson

Copyright © 1999 Harry Willson

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