This week’s reflection is a poem by Ken Ingham. It was written in 1981—yup, more than 40 years ago—though it feels like it was written today, with its mention of abortion and inflation. And with the continued silence around nuclear war. The odds of nuclear war are higher today than at least since the end of the cold war—possibly higher than even at points during then. And yet, it’s hard to get people engaged on this topic.
Women’s rights, gun violence, climate change, all of these cloud out the nuclear threat. And yet if the nuclear issue explodes, all the rest won’t matter. So I invite you to read Ingham’s astute poem and then, without delay, write to your political representative and ask them to lend their support to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. For those in the US, this is a longer letter template that includes additional asks to reduce the risk of nuclear war. (You can find your senators and representative here.) For those outside of the US, here is the standard ICAN letter, which you can add to if you want. Few officials have signed it—just 11 representatives in the US, no senators—so your words can make a difference.
Go with Gaia,
by Ken Ingham
Ask “How’s it goin” and “What ya been doing”?
Trivial questions galore
Mention the weather, tell a good joke
Listen to tales of yore
Bitch about taxes, inflation, the dollar
Pollution, abortion, welfare, and more
Lament the lack of mass transportation
But don’t mention nuclear war
No – mustn’t remind us of nuclear war.
Declare what you wish on religion or science
And politics – whatever you say
Incidentally, if you don’t mind my asking
How much do you weigh?
With such an array of meaningful options
Why touch on a subject of horror?
Have another drink and I’ll have one too
If you don’t mention nuclear war
Not yet – not nuclear war.
Elaborate on children, your neighbor’s, your own
Decry the condition of the schools
What do you think they’ll do when they’re grown
If the future is left to the fools?
Take pride in their latest athletic achievements
Be sure to remember the score
And when you’ve exhausted your final excuse
Only then mention nuclear war –
Say it softly – Nuclear War.
Don’t give the impression of over concern
Be thoughtful, sincere, don’t get sore
Nor hang your head in helpless defeat
Breathe deep, and finish the chore
Remember your aim and stay on the mark
Suppress that terrifying roar
The only issue demanding attention
Is the threat of nuclear war –
Eliminate Nuclear War!