Nuclear weapons affect your life and threaten your community. So what can you do about it?
The common argument in favor of nuclear weapons—that they keep us safe—perpetuates a dangerous system, one that allows unstable dictators to hold whole nations hostage. Many people around the world have decided that they’ve had enough. But what can citizens do to take action?
Pathways to Action
Most people don’t think about nuclear weapons very much. But you can—and you should. Learn about the issue. Understand it. Discuss it with the people in your life. Follow the conversation.
Here are some places to start:
- Nuclear Weapons | Nuclear 101
- The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism | Stanford Online
- Living at the Nuclear Brink | Stanford Online
In the early 1980s, the grassroots Nuclear Freeze Movement opposed the Reagan administration’s proposal for a massive buildup of nuclear weapons. The movement’s pressure helped push Reagan to begin arms limitations negotiations with the Soviet Union.
Today, groups like Global Zero and ICAN are building new grassroots movements and activating the international community to work together and create change. In 2017, ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in advocating for the United Nations Nuclear Ban Treaty. Regular citizens are the heart of their efforts, and the more people participate, the stronger and louder the movement will be. Think about getting involved as a volunteer, or consider donating money.
Talk to your elected officials
Contact your representatives in Congress. Write them, call them, email them, fax them, tweet them… there are many ways to be heard. Many U.S. representatives receive donation money from powerful companies that make nuclear weapons, like Northrop Grumman and Boeing. Tell your official to represent your best interests, not those of nuclear lobbyists. Flex your democratic muscles—they can make a difference.
These websites make it easy to reach out to your representatives:
- USA.gov | How to Contact your Elected Officials
- MSNBC.com | How to write a letter to your congressman
- Union of Concerned Scientists | Take Action Online
When deciding whom to vote for, learn about candidates’ stances on nuclear weapons. Make it a factor in your vote—even on the local and state level. If a candidate doesn’t have a public stance, write or call their office to see where they stand. Show them it’s an issue the public cares about.
Nuclear weapons are more embedded in our economy than many people realize. Personal investing is complicated, and many people can’t name every company they (or their bank, or their 401k) invests in. You can make sure your own investments are in socially responsible stocks or in socially responsible funds that screen for nuclear weapons.
You can also donate money to organizations that work towards nuclear arms reduction. Here are two to consider:
Make art. See art. Talk about art.
Art can bring the horrors of nuclear war to life. Films and novels about nuclear weapons and their effects have likely reached far more people than academic papers have. Sculptors, novelists, poets, painters, filmmakers, and musicians have used their work to spread the message of nonproliferation. If you’re an artist, use your platform to educate and empower the public, and to take back the conversation about nuclear weapons. If you’re an art enthusiast, look into work that touches on the issue—and tell your friends about it, too.
Make it your job
If nuclear issues are your passion, consider dedicating your career to it. Lawyers, scientists, and people working in the nonprofit sector can help advance the elimination of nuclear weapons. Academics in fields like sociology and political science can focus their work on nuclear weapons policy. Journalists and teachers can educate and spread knowledge to motivate more people to get involved. If you’re still a student, consider one of these career paths. If you’re a working adult, consider your professional platform: can you use it to effect change?