On 13 May, the Grassroots Advocacy Table of the United Religions Initiative (URI)’s Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons Cooperation Circle organized an event “100 Seconds to Midnight.” Anna Ikeda of SGI, who was part of the organizing team, joined the panel discussion as one of the speakers.
The event addressed the two existential threats facing humanity and our planet today: climate change and nuclear weapons. It aimed to bring together those working for climate protection and nuclear disarmament, especially those involved in the URI network, and inspire them to engage with a spiritual response and creative action at the grassroots level. The event was attended by over 50 individuals, many of whom identified themselves as actively engaged in either nuclear disarmament, climate protection, or both, and some indicating they are new and want to become more actively involved.
The panel discussion brought together a diverse group of individuals whose work highlights the urgency of climate protection and nuclear disarmament, each pointing to the linkages between the two threats. Tina Cordova, Co-Founder of Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, addressed the effects of nuclear testing and health implications suffered by the people in her community in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Speaking directly from her own and her family’s experience, Cordova said, “For us, the question is not if we will get cancer but when.”
Ikeda spoke about her experience of being involved in the processes that led to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as its entry into force this past January, and now the Treaty’s universalization. She shared how she has been moved to action by the stories of survivors and reminded the audience of various actions that can be taken at the individual and grassroots levels, such as the ICAN Cities Appeal and the Back from the Brink initiative.
During the Q&A, the audience raised questions such as how NGOs can work together beyond their silos, and success stories about engaging the youth for nuclear disarmament, sustainable development and climate protection were shared. Reflecting on the discussions, participants then created a word cloud to summarize the event, which included words like “hope,” “inspiring,” and “connection.” They were also provided with a 3-part “Pray, Study, Act” Guide, which was put together for this event and will continue to be updated.
The event concluded with the Nuclear Prayer read by the Right Rev. William E. Swing, founder of URI and Voices Cooperation Circle.