Dreaming for a Blue Sky

Why is it that humanity is divided into different nations and ethnic groups? It’s because each group has its own mission. We can compare these missions to different colors—there is blue, there is yellow, and there is red. The different colors blend together harmoniously and enhance each other, creating beautiful new colors. In the same way, different ethnic groups have their own missions, and as they accomplish these missions, they help each other and bring about great harmony in the earthly world. However, when human beings enter this physical world, we forget about these heavenly missions, and instead begin to turn against each other. We become selfish, interested only in protecting our own country or group. If our color (mission) is blue, or red, or white, we only want to protect our own blue, or red, or white nation. When we have experienced this to the very limit, we finally realize that it can go on no longer.
– Masahisa Goi, “Be Honest With Yourself,” from Living Like The Blue Sky

Masahisa Goi was born on the 22nd of November in Tokyo. He grew up in a family with nine children, where he pursued his love of arts, literature, and music in his education. He worked his way through school with the aim of becoming a teacher, overcoming ill health and stress through esoteric practises like meditation, yoga, and martial arts. He was working as a cultural activities coordinator at a manufacturing plant when Japan entered the Second World War.

He was 28 years old when Hiroshima was destroyed.

Mr Goi’s life was changed forever upon witnessing the horror. He took up a new cause: to ensure that what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could never happen again, and to strive for world peace. He founded the organisation May Peace Prevail On Earth, an organisation dedicated to bringing all cultures, faiths, traditions, and backgrounds together to promote the ideals of peace, harmony, and common cause. He is succeeded by his adopted daughter Masami Saioniji, and many people throughout the world participate – even here in Scotland, which recently hosted its 30th annual World Peace Festival at Allanton World Peace Sanctuary.

So it was with great sadness that I read what the Shadow Defence Secretary in Westminster – a party led by someone who claims to be for nuclear disarmament – said regarding the renewal of the “independent” nuclear “deterrent”:

It’s Labour Party policy that we keep Trident. The decisions have been taken, the work is being undertaken and that is not a decision we’re going back on. So we’re very, very clear – having a nuclear deterrent is a very important part of our defence policy. It’s also an important part of being a tier-one nation and being in the UN Security Council… I think if you look at the world today it’s a more uncertain place than it’s ever been.
I think if you look at the way the US is not stepping up to the mark, I don’t think this is the right time to be getting rid of our nuclear deterrent. Of course we need to keep an eye on costs, of course we need to make sure we get value for money, and it is a challenging situation when it’s a single-source purchase – much more difficult than when you have competition.
But at the end of the day, this is not the time to be descaling our nuclear deterrent.
Nia Griffith

It’s no different to what the UK Government is saying:

If we do not have that conventional deterrence and the ability to deter through conventional forces, then what we will find ourselves in is a place that none of us wish to be in and having to turn to the greatest deterrence of them all.
UK Defence Secretary

The independent nuclear deterrent is the ultimate guarantee of the UK’s security in the face of the most extreme threats. The whole point of deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it, but we are committed to investing in conventional capabilities.
UK Government Spokesperson

Or the Coalition Party, for that matter:

Our nuclear deterrent keeps us at the top table in this post-Brexit world… If you say that you would never press the button, as Jeremy Corbyn seems to have suggested, that makes a mockery of having a deterrent or indeed sound defences.
Tim Farron

Today is the anniversary of the terrible loss of life in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To this day, many people believe that it was necessary: that without such a resounding display of force, Japan would never have surrendered, and many more lives would have been lost in a conventional invasion. This is not borne out by what was said less than a year after the event:

There is little point in attempting precisely to impute Japan’s unconditional surrender to any one of the numerous causes which jointly and cumulatively were responsible for Japan’s disaster. The time lapse between military impotence and political acceptance of the inevitable might have been shorter had the political structure of Japan permitted a more rapid and decisive determination of national policies. Nevertheless, it seems clear that, even without the atomic bombing attacks, air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion.
Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
United States Strategic Bombing Survey Summary Report (Pacific War) Washington, D.C. 1 July 1946

I’ve spoken before on the monsters lurking in the the river I live beside: nuclear-powered submarines which bear nuclear missiles many times more powerful than Fat Man and Little Boy. It’s a belief I hold as dearly as I hold independence for our nation. But regardless of what one thinks about nuclear weapons, one clearly must acknowledge that the people in charge of them are the most singularly unsuitable people in the nuclear age.

MoD keeps Trident’s official safety assessments secret
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has come under fierce fire after refusing to reveal the official safety ratings given by its watchdog for the Trident nuclear weapons system and nuclear-powered submarines on the Clyde.
The annual ratings, and the reports that justified them, were published for ten years by the MoD, uncovering a series of concerns about spending cutbacks, staff shortages and accidents. But now ministers have clamped down and decided that they can’t release any findings at all because of “national security”.
Experts have accused the MoD of trying to evade public scrutiny, hiding “cock-up and incompetence” and endangering public safety. But the MoD has insisted that the secrecy had not prevented independent assessment of the nuclear programme, which met “all the required standards”.
16th Jyuly 2018

There is good reason to believe that both human resource and technical issues are continuing to impact on the reliability and full strength deployment of both the hunter-killer and Vanguard nuclear-powered submarines. The suppression of if and how the Royal Navy is reaching its nuclear safety targets is of great concern because within the MoD’s hierarchal review structure there is no opportunity for independent assessment. In effect, the buck stops short of a faceless admiral, whose primary duty of providing the nuclear deterrent overrides the safety of the public at large.
DNSR is simply failing to keep up with nuclear safety issues. Probably what this secrecy is hiding is cock-up and incompetence that, by all unofficial accounts, is growing within a unacceptable environment of unaccountability.
– John Large, nuclear engineer

The British military nuclear establishment is increasingly seeking to escape public scrutiny and democratic accountability. The MoD is using the trump card of security to quash reasonable questions. History shows how dangerous this state of affairs can be, and how essential it is to achieve healthy transparency.
– Andy Stirling, Professor of Science & Technology Policy

If the MoD cannot give the public basic guarantees about the safety of their nuclear warheads and nuclear submarines, then the obvious conclusion is that safety issues are being hidden from the public. No responsible nuclear operator would behave in this cloak and dagger fashion. Parliament should step in and call for a halt any activities where the public cannot be given nuclear safety assurances.
– David Cullen, Nuclear Information Service

UK nuclear warhead plant warned: ‘Improve safety or shut down’
Office for Nuclear Regulation orders immediate changes at Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire
Safety fears may halt the assembly of Britain’s nuclear warheads unless sweeping improvements are made soon, it has emerged.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation has ordered immediate safety changes to be made at the UK’s nuclear warhead assembly facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield, in Berkshire, its annual report reveals. The ONR warns that, even with the changes, operations at the Berkshire site will be allowed to continue only for a limited period.
If enough progress is not made in reducing safety risks at the top-secret facility, the regulator has said, operations may need to stop completely – a move that could have serious consequences for equipping the submarine fleet with nuclear weapons.
In its report, the ONR warned that both Burghfield and its sister site, AWE Aldermaston, continued “to rely on the use of ageing production facilities in an environment of uncertainty on scope and delivery timescales for modern standard replacements”.
5th August 2018

And – again – even if you do advocate the retention of nuclear weapons, you must surely realise that political discourse is heading down a deeply dangerous route, with people that clearly cannot be trusted to put the people’s interest first in control over humanity’s collective safety.

One of the ugliest side effects of war is dehumanisation. The Second World War was no different – and not just for the Axis. That the Tripartite Pact committed barely conceivable atrocities up to and including genocide is beyond question – but war makes monsters of us all. One contemporaneous justification for Hiroshima & Nagasaki was that the Japanese people were a dogmatic, fanatical, militaristic culture which would rather commit seppuku than surrender. They were regularly compared to barbarians, subhumans, vermin – fundamentally dehumanising. When your soldiers are making trophies from the skulls of your foes and sending them as keepsakes to your sweetheart back home, nuclear massacres seem only a logical next step.

Dehumanisation is ramping up. The president of the United States calls people “animals.” The previous UK Prime Minister referred to refugees as a “swarm.” The ideologies of those who wrought untold suffering on the world 70 years ago are flourishing, with new heroes and rallying cries. How do we fight this? Simply sharing our decency may be enough.

Too many thinking people now consider trenchant argument to be impolite. They flop into an effete silence while racists, misogynists, liars, conspiracy theorists, even supporters of war crimes, and others with similarly vile views move and operate as if they were normal citizens of a decent and democratic society.

There might have been a time when journalists were expected to act but nowadays they are almost completely in thrall to news values and have for the most part left the field of struggle over fundamental values. They prefer to report comments on current issues without reference to a speaker’s basic and sometimes vile views; bluntly, they are activists in the process of normalisation.

That leaves the last line of defence: the thinking, participative citizen, aware of three things: i) that democracy is recent and fragile ii) that it depends on effective public discourse; and iii) that beyond issues, current affairs, even the differences between conservatives, liberals and socialists, there is a small number of shared positions that mark out democracy, civilised behaviour and human decency. That is now threatened and quiet politeness is complicity.

You know how I feel about politeness. Sometimes keeping silent is not the right things to do. But hatred and resentment are their weapons. We do not need them; we will not use them. People have weird ideas about peace and pacifism: that it’s apathetic and immoral at best, and cowardly and traitorous at worst. To paraphrase Orwell: in a time of universal conflict, peace is a revolutionary act.

3 thoughts on “Dreaming for a Blue Sky

  1. […] readers will be aware that I’m involved in several peace organisations. You’d be amazed at how angry some people get when I talk about wanting […]

  2. […] regular readers of the Wilderness will know, this is a subject deeply personal to me. So, well, I could hardly refuse, could […]

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