Disarmament Week, which begins on the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (October 24th) is observed this week. One of the oldest goals of the UN is disarmament, yet countries worldwide continue to hoard weapons rather than disarm.
Nuclear weapons are a paradoxical contradiction. As it stands now, these weapons capable of tragic destruction are illegal to use, yet many countries believe the only way to prevent an attack against themselves is to build up their nuclear stockpile.
Through nuclear weapons, we are perpetuating an immoral, expensive, and false sense of security worldwide. According to Win Without War, every hour taxpayers are paying $2,191,256 for nuclear weapons, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies notes that the U.S. defense budget in 2016 was $597.5 billion, almost as much as the next 15 countries combined.
Pope Francis has continually called for us to care for the poor, show concern for the planet, and work toward peace. Nuclear weapons undermine that collective call by disproportionately harming poor communities, by releasing large amounts of radioactive material in our land, water, and environment, and by preventing peace from being fully realized with the false idea that safety is found through armaments.
Living in a global community is not solely about individualism and personal conversion but also about working toward the conversion of oppressive structures in society. Citizens must take responsibility for the policies of their homeland, holding them responsible to ensure they follow international laws and treaties. A sustainable future can be attained by shifting funds from national security to human security and working to provide for the poor, the planet, and for peace. The use of weapons should no longer be the currency of foreign policy around the globe. Isaiah 2:4 says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” Let us follow Pope Francis’ call to work for a world free of nuclear weapons and encourage all to live by the Golden Rule by beating any swords in our lives into plowshares to work for change and peace in our world.