Nuclear Terror and Psychic Numbing

Nuclear terror has ruled our lives since 1945. As the types, numbers, delivery methods, and owners of nuclear weapons have proliferated, the terror has deepened. The terror is deeply buried, because it is so painful. For two or three generations now, we have been living on the edge of eco-catastrophe, the possibility of ending all life on earth with a manmade nuclear winter.

Gulf War I introduced of a horrendous new nuclear weapon, depleted uranium. This material causes abortions, birth defects and cancer, as well as lung and kidney ailments. It pollutes the local gene pool forever. We have to accept the enormous damage we have already done. (For the latest information about this material, www.uraniumweaponsconference.de)

NUCLEAR TERROR strikes at the very heart of consciousness, which ultimately is about continuation of the species. As individuals, we are concerned about ourselves. As members of a species, we are concerned about reproduction, about having healthy children and providing for them.

As continuation of the species looks more and more unlikely, we develop more and more PSYCHIC NUMBING- a deep loss of hope for the future: shutting down of the basic biological urge to propagate our kind. We stop having children, or don’t care for them. We live in the moment and don’t plan for the future of our children, our grandchildren, our planet.

Our psyches are terribly distorted, and the distortions are embedded in the developing brains of everyone born after 1945. Since we all are affected, we don’t notice, just as fish aren’t aware of water. Perhaps that is why the only consistent voice of sanity in the US Senate these days belongs to a man in his 80’s, Senator Robert Byrd of WV.

We are psychically split. We act as if life will go on for many generations to come, ignoring the ever-growing danger of nuclear war. We live AS IF life were the same as it was 100 years ago. Nuclear war is a taboo subject, not fit for polite company. Essentially, we are all living a lie, ignoring the overwhelming threat to continuation of life on earth. Psychic numbing shows up in our trouble making and keeping long term commitments, such as the marriage vow.

AMERICANS tend to identify with America’s nuclear weapons, thinking that they meant to defend our country. We plebes don’t realize that their real function is to defend the interests of a small group of corporations, the military-aerospace-oil complex. Our role is to be HOSTAGES. The people in power have bunkers and bomb shelters in which to ride out a nuclear war. There is no civil defense for the rest of us. Not only are we targeted, but we pay for the privilege, with our taxes. (The actual price tag for US military spending in fiscal 2004 will be $486 billion, or 56 percent of all federal discretionary spending.) Our DENIAL OF THIS SHATTERING TRUTH IS HEAVILY FOSTERED by the warmongers. We are told by the media, over and over, that we have an enemy, and we need nuclear weapons to protect us. When the Cold War ended, a new threat called terrorism was quickly produced.

As if thought control by the media weren’t enough, our culture is geared toward violence and exploitation. Our children are raised on sadistic cartoons and video games. We are taught to channel our aggression into team sports- mostly as spectators- and to always root for the home team. “Us against them” thinking is ingrained, and of course we are always the good guys.

We are also trained to be passive. We are fed all sorts of drugs, legal and illegal, that sedate us or make us crazy. The education system trains our children to sit still and give the right answers. Our diet and lifestyle makes us fat and lazy.

We are also terrorized. Protestors are given harsh sentences these days. Sane leaders who advocate love and peace have been systematically assassinated or killed in mysterious accidents- both Kennedys (3 with John Jr.), ML King, Jr., Mel Carnahan and Paul Wellstone to name a few.

We are socially fragmented. We are encouraged to focus on ourselves and personal success, rather to face our common problems and seek solutions together. The divorce rate is high and children are neglected or abused. The social service system breaks up our families. As we are socially atomized, we feel more and more powerless to deal with the threat of nuclear holocaust.

We are out of touch with our bodies. We sit in cars, in front of TVs and computers, at desks, but we don’t experience our physical reality and that of the world around us. No wonder we don’t take care of the environment!

We worship money and goods instead of the God of love and truth. After 9-11, the president told us to keep shopping. Our health as a nation is measured by the the stock market rather than by the number of people in prison.

No doubt the reader will think of a dozen more ways in which psychic numbing is maintained, and the belief that nuclear weapons will protect us and not harm us, is fostered. When peace movements arise, as they did in the 60’s and prior to the Iraq invasion, they tend to focus on stopping specific wars rather than concentrating on the overriding need to abolish nuclear weapons, once and for all.


The Bush administration is systematically dismantling the international treaties that were painstakingly crafted over the past 40 years to contain and control the use and spread of nuclear weapons.

The ABM treaty was the first target. Signed by the two nuclear giants in 1972 it successfully capped the nuclear arms race for 30 years. It prevented the building of a missile shield, a huge boondoggle much desired by the Bush junta. Although the fight to save the ABM treaty was valiant and nearly succeeded, Bush took advantage of 9-11 to withdraw. A missile shield can never provide the security we had with the treaty structure- at best, it’s only 95% effective, and it is years away

Bush’s new pre-emptive strike policy, by lumping nuclear weapons with other WMD’s and asserting the right to use them against non-nuclear nations, clearly violates the crucial NonProliferation Treaty (NPT), which every nation in the world has signed except for Israel, India and Pakistan. And North Korea just withdrew. According to ElBaradei, head of the international agency set up to inspect and enforce the NPT, 40 or 50 countries could develop nuclear weapons in the next year, if they so chose. Nuclear anarchy, here we come!

The Bush doctrine includes A RELIGIOUS ANGLE. It says that America is a Christian country on a crusade against evil. We are brainwashed into believing that war is peace, lies are truth, and Jesus advocates war and conquest. “Christian” leaders advocate hate and violence, against Muslims, pro-choice advocates, liberals. Here’s a description of banner at a pro-Bush rally:

Across the top of the banner, which was clearly professionally made and not hand-lettered, were the block-letter words “SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH.” Through the center of the banner were black outlines of various weapons, including a thermonuclear bomb. Underneath these images were two more block-letter words: “TRUST JESUS.”

The threat of doomsday brings up Biblical imagery in a largely Christian country, where the Bible is still the best selling book. Terms like armageddon and apocalypse have become part of the culture. Conveniently for the warmongers, an interpretation of prophecy has emerged- set out in the popular “Left Behind” books- that culminates in nuclear war, thus justifying and sanctifying the nuclear buildup.

The current right wing “Christian” theology offers people a comforting way of dealing with nuclear terror. Called dispensationalism, it promises that true believers will avoid the travail of the tribulation, and will be transported straight to heaven by Jesus. They won’t have to experience nuclear war, which will take place only after they are “raptured up”. Of course, this interpretation of the Bible fails to explain how Jesus will rule over the new Jerusalem on a planet totally polluted with gene-destroying radiation.

We PEACE ACTIVISTS, who see through the guff and keep the threat of nuclear war ever in our consciousness, still have our own layers of psychic numbing to go through. How do we avoid despair? How do we talk to the ostriches all around us? How do we find the strength to deal with a police state? How can we look our children in the eye and honestly encourage them to have babies?

We must never forget the urgency of the threat, and the magnitude of the destruction. Let us not be diverted by electoral politics or Michael Jackson, but keep our eye on the sword of Damocles, as we struggle to remove it.

We must keep faith that humanity has enough common sense to avoid catastrophe. Nuclear weapons up to now have provided an iron discipline for mankind, which has developed more self-restraint and international cooperation in the last 50 years than in the preceding 2000. I believe that God will not destroy His creation.

We must bring the damage done to our own troops by depleted uranium to the forefront. Potentially, this slow form of nuclear war affects enough Americans now to create public outrage similar to the Strontium 90 uproar in the late 50’s, which led to abolition of aboveground nuclear testing.

We must realize that as peacemakers, we are engaged in spiritual warfare against the warmongers. We must speak the truth, sound the warning, denounce the lying criminals who would destroy us. Our words, our tongues, our writings, are our weapons.

We must love all our neighbors, including the terrorists, the whales and polar bears, and our own great-grandchildren. Only love can overcome the fear and hatred that is driving us to destruction.

We must take responsibility for cleaning up the horrendous mess we have made, and not seek the easy out of mass suicide.

We must be grateful for our successes, and keep our confidence in the face of repression and lost battles. We are the people, we are everywhere, and we will prevail!

We must reclaim the mantle of legitimacy, and not allow the false Christians to steal it from us. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, not of nuclear war.

We are almost at the point of no return. The spiritual battle of Armageddon, between the warmongers and the peacemakers, is raging right now. The warmongers have overreached themselves, but don’t know how to turn back. They will hold onto power with all their might.

We must always remember that God is on the side of life. He will not allow a nuclear winter to take place. He told Moses: Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live .

Let us choose life, now and forever. If God is with us, we cannot lose.

Carol Wolman is a psychiatrist. She can be reached at: cwolman@mcn.org


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