About Nuclear Weapons

All we need to do to remember the dangers of nuclear weapons is remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and not only the dangers to the planet but to humanity. All it would take is one foolish leader, one foolish decision for the world as we know it to be annihilated. At the present moment nine countries have a stockpile of nuclear weapons:

  • Russia 6375
  • US 5800
  • China 320
  • France 290
  • UK 215
  • Pakistan 160
  • India 150
  • Israel 90
  • North Korea 30-40

The list does not include would be nuclear powers such as Iran or even Saudi Arabia. Obviously, the US and Russia are way ahead. At the present they are at loggers heads on the START Treaty. The treaty seeks to limit the deployment of each at 1500, and both actually agree. But the US wants China to be included in the new treaty. China has refused on the ground that since its arsenal is so much smaller than the other two, why should it limit itself and in its view be at a disadvantage? Unless the treaty is renewed by February 2021, it will expire. And if it does the world will be worse off including China. That is because while there would be no limits, there would also be no transparency as to what other countries are up to.  Eight in ten Americans believe in nuclear arms control treaties and most see nuclear arms as a top threat to national security—the others being terrorism and infectious diseases. As important as renewing this treaty may be, fact is that the limit it imposes on its signatories are still high enough to destroy the world. Treaties are needed but the planet would be safer, saner and in a better position to survive to the future  if we would all work towards a nuclear free world.

Compassion, Harmlessness and Mary Trump

Compassion is not only a basis for Buddhism it is also one for Christianity since love without compassion would hardly be love. It thus unifies Eastern and Western traditions and is a trait without which our humanity would be in question. Like so many I endeavor to deepen my understanding of compassion and look for its manifestations as some sort of assurance that humanity is moving forward. It is with keen interest that I watched Mary Trump’s ’TV appearances and read the interviews she gave. She was poised and her manner did not fall prey to wanton criticisms, her view evolved from facts and the inward search those facts seem to me to have elicited within her. Her honesty underlined how articulate she was and her perception though unstinting was not without cause. While some may call it cold and unsparing, I would call it compassionate. Why? Because as best as I can see she wasn’t interested in criticizing but understanding, and her efforts led her to see her uncle, our president, in relation to the context that gave rise to his behavior. She came to the conclusion that that behavior and way of being and living was dangerous, and when asked if she had compassion for him, she said she used to but does not now. Should compassion extend to actions and behavior we deem dangerous, or in my own cosmology, harmful? I would say no.  In the Mary Trump instance a chief reason is that the danger her uncle poses represents a conclusion of her analysis and pondering. She did not decide he was dangerous and then tried to prove it. That conclusion does not undo the underlying compassion that got her there, the need to understand, to sort out, to make sense, to not judge without cause. When things or people are harmful, compassion has a totally different role, and Mary Trump indirectly perhaps helps us better see that role .I, for example, do not feel compassion for Nazis or slave owners because some actions go beyond the reach of compassion. Despite some exceptions, as adults slave owners and Nazis chose to be cruel refusing awareness of the harm they were causing, just as to the best of my understanding this president is choosing harmful policies without caring about the suffering they lead to.

Billionaires and Inequality

There are now 788 billionaires in the US, or at least there was in 2019 according to a study by Wealth-X which issues a comprehensive report yearly, that is 12% more than the year before. Collectively they control $ 3.4 trillion which is 14% more than they did in 2018. The US actually has more billionaires than any other country, more than the next 5 countries combined. China is second with less than half the US number. In 2016 the 620 billionaires in the US controlled $2.6 trillion. The growth among the mega rich which is partly due to the tech boom is now the subject of much discussion. It is becoming more and more inescapable that the US has economic policies which favor billionaires and end up placing workers at a disadvantage. Are the rich too rich, many are now beginning to ask?  Given it is an election year it is assumed the question will be a continued topic. When considering how difficult it is for many workers to be paid a living wage, how many jobs are being lost to automation, how many are unemployed with no assurance they will be able to get their job back due to Covid-19, when several studies show the US trending towards being a plutocracy, how rich is too rich is not only an important topic it is a must.

Undergoing Losses

Once in a while the health condition of a celebrity goes beyond their PR and can inspire the rest of us. It happened when Julie Andrews could no longer sing following a surgery and now I read that Val Kilmer following throat cancer cannot speak, or speak so he can be readily understood. He had a tracheostomy and now has a tube which is hidden by a scarf. We all undergo losses, it’s part of life on this planet, and we all have to handle them. Some losses are more drastic than others, and losing your voice when you are an actor is very drastic. According to the NYT profile Kilmer, who is a Christian Scientist, uses the tenets of his faith and shows no self-pity. He’s involved in a foundation he created, has a quirky gallery on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, and still believes he can find roles to suit his present condition.

Here we are living through a pandemic, undergoing some form of loss, having to make adjustments to our lifestyle, adjustments which are both large and small, and which will probably linger in some form for a long time. Some at the moment have no income, and for them the experience of someone like Val Kilmer can perhaps offer some iota of comfort that it may ultimately be easier for them to receive an income than it will ever be for him to get his voice back. For the rest of us it’s a reminder of how fortunate we are.