the history of American-Soviet relations, indeed our relations with the whole world, that the United States has never committed not to make first use of its nuclear weapons. This is an astonishing fact. You probably don’t believe me, but I assure you it’s so. So that if you can’t get a peace treaty between the major powers, you ought to be able to get at least a treaty against first use Of nuclear weapons. And yet this is not an issue in the country it’s not even an issue in your own mind. How did that come to be? I received a letter from Barry Childers, a clinical psychologist who apparently works with some people in College Station. He’s worried too. In one of his statements that he enclosed he said, “In recent years I have become more and more concerned about the prospects of nuclear %yar, which have been steadily increasing, and deeply puzzled about the fact that so few people seem to be doing anything to prevent it.” Childers sent me a speech he made in Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, last April, and with your indulgence, I should like to read you a few paragraphs from his speech called, “The Tipping Point.” He first relates some experiences he had at the Stop the Arms Race Conference at Oberlin College: “I had the privilege of spending several hours listening to George Wald, the Nobel laureate biologist from Harvard. He has been one of my mentors in the peace movement. We were sitting at our breakfast table Saturday morning when Dr. Wald was being interviewed by two students from the campus newspaper. After a long discussion of the horrors of nuclear war and his fearfulness about how rapidly . we are approaching it, one of the students, with a look of genuine puzzlement said, ‘Dr. Wald, how is it you can think about these things so much and talk about them with such fervor and yet seem so happy?’ Dr. Wald paused for a moment and then smiled that beatific smile of his and said, ‘I’m so happy because I’m so angry.’ This surprised and puzzled the student even more, but then he went on to explain that being in touch with his anger, which he considered a very appropriate response to a lot that is happening in the world, and being able to use that energy creatively in the work he is doing in the peace movement is an enlivening and satisfying process.” Childers continued, “Never have so many done so little to oppose the approach of such potentially disastrous, catastrophic events. I guess I am as puzzled by their inaction as they often are by my action.” He went into three stories about why people don’t act. One is what he calls the “avoidance theory,” the sec ond is the “I’m-nobody-and-I-can’t-doanything about it!” approach, and the third is “leave it to the experts” a fairly good summary of What people do and say. Then he has what he calls the tipping point: “We were thinking, probably talking about these things, maybe attending events like this, perhaps contributing a little money to a cause here and there, and then something happened, something that tipped the scales and we decided that we could and should do more and we began to do it.” Childers dramatizes the conception of the tipping point with the following questions: “At what point would you begin to actively oppose the nuclear arms race? After another 100,000 megatons of bombs are in the arsenal? After the MX missile system is completed? When they put technical nuclear missiles all over Europe? When the nuclear arms club includes 20 members? 50? Or maybe when we’re building laser weapons and platforms in space? Or when the military budget uses half of our taxes? Three fourths? Or would it take another scare like the Cuban missile crisis or Afghanistan where the fingers begin to move toward the buttons? “I do assume that your patience with this kind of insanity would not be limitless. When would you say, enough is enough?” Isn’t that a good series of questions? Barry Childers also proposes the formation of Nuclear Numbness Anonymous, from a phrase, I think from Robert Jay Lifton, that everyone seems to be suffering from nuclear numbness. His practical idea is that we ought to form discussion groups. I received a letter from a woman who said her thoughts had been churning around, longing for a direction that would help turn around the arms race and stand by the poor and powerless, nonviolently but there. She did not have a plan, she said, but she has been heartened by ideas expressed by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an association of men and women who recognize the essential unity of humanity and explore the power of love and truth for resolving conflict. The Quakers have been working on economic conversion from war to peacetime production so that jobs would not be lost, she said. About Journalists I got an interesting letter from Charles Marsh in Dallas which I shall simply read: “Dan Rather of CBS has a one-to-twominute radio spot every afternoon at 4:24 p.m. that I usually hear on my car radio on my way home from work. About three weeks ago he talked about a Catholic clergyman, I think he was a bishop, who came out with a recommendation that his parishioners withhold half their taxes as a protest against nuclear arms and the arms race. I think he was on the West Coast Washington or Oregon. Rather said this was the first time a high-ranking establishment type had come out for such drastic action, and that four other churches I believe the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Church of Christ, and one other had come out in support of him. Rather thought it might be the beginning of something. Naturally ., I got excited, rushed home, and watched his regular 5:30 newscast, but no further mention was made. And, I haven’t heard anything since. Could you please find out more about this?” As it happens, in a telephone conversation with a friend in New York I have learned that the national media is looking at that statement by the bishop on the West Coast. But this does sort of touch us up in the media, doesn’t it? We in the media should stop waiting for community furor. We should be able to make decisions as moral human beings ourselves. And we do not; we wait for community furor, which is a mistake. If we have ethical intelligence, we should be using it. I’m proud of the Texas Observer in a number of ways, and I’m going to admit to pride this morning, because I can bring you a page proof I just finished checking last night. The headline reads “Bishop of Amarillo Tells Bomb Workers: Resign.” Now you didn’t know that probably unless you listen to the radio. The reason you didn’t is because the Austin paper didn’t run it. Neither, as well as I can determine, has any Dallas or Houston newspaper. There was a seven-paragraph Associated Press story that appeared on page 19 of the Fort Worth Star Telegram and page 18 of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. What happened was, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Amarillo, which is 45,000 square miles and contains 90,000 listed Catholics, became the first Catholic bishop in the United States to call on Catholic workers in nuclear bomb plants to resign. And why it’s so dramatic is the presence of the Pantex plant 17 miles northeast of Amarillo where all nuclear bombs produced in the United States, without a single exception, are assembled. He told the Observer, in a telephone interview the bishop’s name is L. T. Matthiesen that some of the workers at the Pantex nuclear-bomb THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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