Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Preventing Nuclear War: Can We Feel Solid Ground Beneath Our Feet?

Surface view of the Atlantic Ocean
(Source: Wikipedia)

Then God turned his attention to Noah and all the wild animals and farm animals with him on the ship. God caused the wind to blow and the floodwaters began to go down. The underground springs were shut off, the windows of Heaven closed and the rain quit. Inch by inch the water lowered. After 150 days the worst was over.

On the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ship landed on the Ararat mountain range. The water kept going down until the tenth month. On the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains came into view.

- Genesis 8:1-5
(translation from The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson)

Everybody knows the part about the "40 days and 40 nights" - the rain that brought on the flood, the flood that Noah escaped using the ark. But the really scary part must have been what came when the rain stopped.

I am trying to imagine Noah, looking out at the surface of the water, for months . . . and having no idea how the story is going to end.

Maybe Noah was thinking, "How much longer will our food last? We can't live like this forever!"

Maybe Noah was thinking, "Anyway, this is no way to live. I might as well jump overboard and end it all."

Maybe Noah was thinking, "If only I could detect some sign that the water is going down . . . that the flood won't continue forever . . . . "

The rain had begun in the second month; it rained for 40 days, and after that the water didn't start to go down for 150 days! It wasn't until the seventh month that the bottom of the ark touched the very tops of the Ararat range.

It was three more months before the land became visible. (More on that in the next section.) But at least starting in the seventh month there was hope, because Noah and the others could feel the bottom of the ark bumping up against something. I think it must have been those months before anyone could detect any hint of land beneath the ark that were the worst.

*    *    * 

A few days from now, the world will mark the 74th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons against a human population -- the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. For 74 years, we have been like Noah, floating on the open water with no hint of land in sight. Despite ups and downs over the years, the global arsenal of nuclear weapons still stands at around 14,000 warheads, all ready to be used at a moments notice to destroy all of us.

However: I do believe we can now feel a sign of hope, like Noah feeling the hint of solid ground beneath the keel of the ark. There is momentum in the US -- in the form of the "Back From the Brink" campaign -- to move all of us, step-by-step, away from imminent nuclear war. And there is momentum globally -- in the form of the global nuclear ban treaty -- towards the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

We should not kid ourselves: getting to a world safe from the danger posed by nuclear weapons will not be easy. (Like Noah, we may be tempted to wonder if we shouldn't just give up and jump overboard.) But we must also seize the signs of hope that offer to help keep us going . . . and share them with everyone we know.

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Related post:

Imagine war as a storn-driven sea. Imagine if (like Jesus) we had the authority to command, "PUT A MUZZLE ON IT!" . . . . What if our speech acts could stop war in its tracks? (See Maybe We DO Have the Authority to Stop War)

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