BBC Wales - Word for the Week
4th June 1998
There may have been fire-crackers and rejoicing in the street, but the rest of the world is troubled by India and Pakistan’s atomic tests and sabre-rattling. Despite their delight at becoming a nuclear power, their future is now less secure than ever before. And, probably, so is ours.
One phrase which I read at school still haunts me:- “war is the ultimate product of a society based on competition”. And what competition could be more likely to spawn war than the contest to have the most deadly arsenal?
But, the West may claim that having its own nuclear capability during the years of the Cold War helped to maintain peace. If that’s so, where is the logic, even the sincerity, in complaining when other countries want such arms in the face of their own cold wars?
I believe that it is tragic that any country - rich or poor - should divert so much of its wealth to so-called defence. Every nation has more important priorities. It is also tragic that we allow ourselves the illusion of security based on our ability to destroy countless thousands of civilians elsewhere.
However, the greatest tragedy I see in this case is that, by our own attitudes and policies in the West, we send a message to other countries to want to join the club of nuclear powers. If we truly believe in non-proliferation we need a different approach.
There is the story of Mahatma Gandhi who was approached by a distraught mother. “My son suffers from diabetes”, she pleaded, “but he continues to eat sugar. You are respected as a great man, please tell him to stop.” The Mahatma simply told them to come back the next week. When they returned, Mahatma Gandhi then asked the child to give up eating sugar. The boy immediately responded to the Mahatma’s concerned request. The mother was delighted, but asked Gandhi why he had made them wait a whole week. The Mahatma replied, “a week ago, I was still eating sugar.”
As the Hindu scripture, Bhagavad-gita, says “whatever great people do, others follow in their footsteps and whatever standards they set by exemplary acts, the whole world pursues.”
The Gita also offers its peace formula based on the understanding of the oneness of all humanity as children of the same Supreme Being. As long as we languish in sectarian groups of nationality, race and religion we will fight over selfish interests of power, land and money. However, the Gita claims that peace is deserved by those who recognise God to be the person who is the real proprietor of the world and to whom we all must answer and yet who is our best friend and shelter in the face of all danger.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Word for the Week” on BBC Radio Wales.