By Desmond Tutu
Nuclear weapons are an obscenity. They are the very antithesis of humanity, of goodness in this world. What security do they help establish? What kind of world community are we actually seeking to build when nations possess and threaten to use arms that can wipe all of humankind off the globe in an instant?
Unimaginative leaders continue to believe that eliminating this ultimate menace is impossible – a hopeless, utopian goal. But how often have we heard politicians say “this will never happen over my dead body”, and then it happens because people rise up and take action to make it happen? Politicians should have learned by now never to say never!
That is not to suggest that the struggle for a nuclear-weapon-free world will be easily won. Like any battle waged against a deeply entrenched system, it will take patience and perseverance. We won’t see success overnight. But we really must approach the challenge with urgency, for despite the end of the cold war, the world remains just a hair’s-breadth from nuclear catastrophe, and every moment is crucial.
It distresses me greatly that the nuclear-armed nations have failed to live up to their disarmament commitments, choosing instead to continue squandering billions of dollars on these awful bombs. It is an outrageous theft of public resources – at a time when there are people who go hungry, when children are dying because they have no clean water, when diseases run rampant, when we have the wherewithal to eradicate all these dreadful scourges.
We keep admitting that the globe is shrinking, that we are one another’s keeper, as it were. Yet, we tolerate – through our collective inaction – the existence of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons capable of blowing the whole world into smithereens. How can this be? Are we not all brothers and sisters on this small globe of ours?
The imperative to take immediate, united action for nuclear abolition could not be clearer. This splendid and timely report, Don’t Bank on the Bomb, will help people everywhere make their contribution, however small, to this vital campaign for a safer world. It’s each little contribution put together that will ultimately lead to the abolition of nuclear weapons – not any single momentous event or decision by governments.
Banks and other financial institutions should be called upon to do the right thing and assist, rather than impede, efforts to eliminate the threat of radioactive incineration by divesting from the immoral nuclear arms industry. In the long struggle to end racial segregation in South Africa, our freedom was won with the help of concerned individuals around the world who pressured their leaders and corporate actors to stop funding the racist regime.
To those who invested in our country, we said: you are doing us no favour, you are buttressing one of the most vicious systems. Divestment was vital in the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. Today, the same tactic can – and must – be employed to challenge man’s most evil creation: the nuclear bomb. No one should be profiting from this terrible industry of death, which threatens us all.