Some of the Rehumanize International team at the Women's March to Ban the Bomb in NYC.
Can nuclear arms ever be a means of just defense? The bomb, as used in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, was used with the specific purpose of killing non-combatants. In arguments for its use as a deterrent to conflict, the threat is still that we -- or they -- will drop a little boy on your poor public’s population -- and no matter the ends such an action claims to seek (our governments preen on the word peace) its means are unjust: massive holocaust of civilian human lives.
Thus, in New York City on Saturday, June 17th, Rehumanize International joined the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb. The event, though organized by those who do not adhere to a consistent ethic of life, nonetheless addressed a core issue to that ethic: nuclear arms. As Outreach Director, I had gathered a contingent of pro-life feminists and consistent life allies -- some from as far afield as Boston (including myself) to rally in support of the Treaty to Ban Nuclear Arms proposed in the UN, and in discussion during the event.
While small, the crowd in the city comprised an amazingly diverse array, from long-time anti-war activists, to the pro-nuclear-disarmament organization, Amplify Youth, lead by young women much like ourselves.
The strangest part of the event was the fact that the organizers refused our donation and offer of sponsorship! Even as we joined the rally, one of the “peace marshall” volunteers came slogging through the crowd -- “CJ! Are you CJ Williams, Director of Outreach with Rehumanize?”
“Yes -- can I help you?”
“This is just about banning nuclear weapons, right? That’s why you’re here?”
“Of course.” But why wouldn’t I be? Nukes kill human beings on an inconceivably horrific scale. Our mission is to end aggressive violence against human beings.
“We’re here,” I told her, “To partner with you on our mutually held principles of non-violence.”
Because violence against a fellow human being is wrong. I handed her our outreach card addressing nuclear arms and the Consistent Ethic of Life: Believing in a human-centered ethic and praxis, it reads, we demand an end to all nuclear arms and a ban on weapons of mass destruction.
She left, assured. But I had conveyed this message multiple times before via email and phone call, and somehow, it was not taken seriously. How could we really be there without an intention to hijack the march? Because in our consistency, we are also anti-abortion, it it was automatically assumed I couldn’t care about another act of mass violence against human beings.
There may be a limit to how much one human rights advocate can do, but there is not a limit to the consistency of my belief, or to the amount that I can care. Every human being’s life matters equally.
At 1pm, the rally launched. Then the march. Then the rain. It had been spattering all late morning. Now it came down in a torrent.
We handed out signs reading Nukes are not pro-life, and those nearly 100 handouts - one of which I had offered the peace marshall - I had to jam under my arm to keep semi-dry. It put a severe damper on our plan; but not, ultimately, on our reach.
People approached us! We handed out multiple signs -- and as the March slogged down 5th Ave., women in sandals, sneakers, and women from the Japanese Women’s League in Kimono’s and traditional stockings, walking side by side, we began to chant.
“What do we want? A ban! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? A nuclear ban! When do we want it? Now!” and “Nukes are not pro-life!” and “Rain is better than nuclear fallout! Human lives are what we’re about!”
One woman, with a voice strong as a diva on-stage at the Met, took one of our signs, and lead the entire March in a dirge-like rendition of Nukes are not pro-life.
We finished the March, wet -- and the rain continued to fall. But it didn’t keep us from moving from huddle to huddle of umbrella-d marchers to hand out our cards, and get to know our fellow marchers. Many agreed with us about the integral point of consistency when treating all issues regarding human life. Many did not. But we listened; and so did they.
As we move on towards the end of the year, I - and we at Rehumanize International - will continue to call on the world to unite to ban the bomb, and to participate in events that highlight the severe discrepancy between a government that purports to support human rights, and that same government stockpiling weapons whose only use practical use can be against an unarmed population.