Tag Archives: abolition

Schell: Complete Disarmament is the Only Sane Path

The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of PeaceThe excerpt from Jonathan Schell‘s  1982 book The Fate of the Earth is the nineteenth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace .  This dialogue continues the Post-Vietnam to the Present (1975-  ) section of the book.  The essay centers on Schell’s lifelong quest to abolish nuclear weapons.  The Fate of the Earth is based on a series of essays that Schell wrote for The New Yorker in the early 1980s.  It won the Los Angeles Times Book prize.

Sadly, despite the fall of the Soviet Union, Schell’s arguments for the only path to a safe world still hold.  He sees nuclear weapons as the greatest “predicament” that mankind has faced. With the benefit of current knowledge, I would argue that global climate change has overtaken nuclear weapons as humankind’s worst self-imposed threat.  Yet even at number two, the abolition of nuclear weapons must be accomplished for our survival.  I would also argue that the two are intertwined under former US President Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex.”  Continue reading Schell: Complete Disarmament is the Only Sane Path

Frederick Douglass speaks on the 4th of July

Duke Augustus: I like to remember that the 4th of July is a celebration of Independence, not of war.  It is the celebration of activists coming together to speak out against human rights violations and crying “Enough! We will not take any more.”  IN that vein, one of our greatest Americans, Frederick Douglass spoke on July 5, 1852:

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens:  He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country schoolhouses, avails me nothing on the present occasion.

Frederick Douglass booksThe papers and placards say, that I am to deliver a 4th [of] July oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for it is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall, seems to free me from embarrassment.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable—and the difficulties to be overcome in getting from the latter to the former, are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say. I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence, I will proceed to lay them before you. Continue reading Frederick Douglass speaks on the 4th of July