I have not seen the movie Oppenheimer yet but it’s on my to do list. In the middle of this ten day road trip we spent a night in Alamagordo which is about 80 miles south of the Trinity site where the atomic bomb was exploded, some 50 miles southeast of Socorro, NM. This area, known as the White Sands Proving Grounds, is an area for testing missiles. Within these 55,000 acres there is a National Monument. And, the dates for the Trinity Site Open House are now October 21, 2023 and April 6, 2024. If you’re interested in visiting, you can find details on numerous web sites.
After our night in Alamagordo, we drove west toward Las Cruces, NM and passed by the white sands and my thoughts about how the world changed after that explosion were a mixture of sadness and disappointment. Sad about human beings being vaporized in Japan when the bombs were dropped, and all the lives lost since then in wars. Disappointed that we have still not learned how to settle our differences without going to war of one kind or another. Sad also about the war we and others are funding in Ukraine so we don’t have to go to war with Russia and the lives being destroyed on both sides of that war. I know there are those who say there have always been wars as if that makes it more acceptable as inevitable and ongoing history being recorded as we continue the destruction. I keep asking why can we not seem to do and be better?
For 10 years we lived about 40 miles from Los Alamos where Oppenheimer led the research that developed the bomb at that secret location with no address, just a post office box in Santa Fe. Now, Los Alamos, Sandia Labs in Albuquerque and Livermore in California still do a lot of government contracted research on all kinds of projects many of which have to do with national security and nuclear science. The budget of Los Alamos is 4.6 billion, Sandia 3.6 billion and Livermore 2.8 billion. The war in Ukraine cost the global economy “well over $1.6 trillion” last year, according to a study by the German Institute of Economics. So war is costly, not only in lives but in real money that fuels economic engines. Want to improve the economy? Go to war.
In addition to bombs and rockets, most wars involve guns, guns that shoot and kill people since that’s what they are designed to do and now we have some of those guns on our streets that are shooting and killing people. And when I hear the argument that it’s not guns that kill people it is people that kill people, I want to scream, it’s the guns. Without the guns, people, especially angry people, cannot shoot others. All one has to do it to look at other industrialized countries that have laws restricting and controlling the use of guns by civilians to make a comparison with the United States of America. As long as elected officials are funded by the NRA, we will continue to lose this battle to get guns off the streets. To change this we will need to change those in charge who are doing nothing to regulate the purchase and use of guns. Yes, we do it with drugs and there is an illegal drug trade. Maybe there will always be those willing to break laws designed to keep them safe. Seat belts? Bombs, guns, drugs and seat belts.
I am still willing to take sides, speak up, interfere and do what I can to preserve the sanctity and sacredness of human lives regardless which side they’re on. It’s only through being a living sign of love, as Henri Nouwen said, that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds. I remember a poster back in the 60’s by Lorraine Schneider who was from a Jewish immigrant family: