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As the SA government aims to extend the life of Koeberg, while also pursuing new nuclear energy capacity, South Africans should consider this technology’s ability to do extensive harm. SAFCEI members (faith leaders and communities from different backgrounds and viewpoints) encourage reflection and take this opportunity to speak out about the moral and ethical reasons to reject nuclear. 


Rev. Roux Malan Community Minister of the Cape Town Unitarians writes…


On August 6 and 9, 1945 the United States detonated two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the consent of the United Kingdom and Canada. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. 


Large numbers of people continued to die for months afterward from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries – compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians.


These two stark days in human history and their aftermath stand as a blunt reminder for humanity of the ravages of war and violence. It is also stands as a clarion call for the need for non-violent methods of change and transformation, both within our global society and amongst ourselves.


2020 marks the 75th commemoration of this event and with that we are faced with the global challenge of Covid-19, and the many fault lines in societies that it exposed. In South Africa it exposes the urgent need to transform key issues such as inequality, racial tension, equal access to health care, violence against woman, police brutality and, even though less apparent, the need for respect and care for our natural world.


Unfortunately, in the media and through speeches in the public sphere, the metaphor of war and violence were used to inspire us to ask to transform these key issues. 


Make war against the Covid19 virus! We need to defeat it!

Make war against violence against women!

Make war against inequality and environmental destruction!


Even though I understand the sentiment of urgency portrayed through these metaphors, I don’t think they help us to bring about the change we need. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the ultimate reminders of what life becomes like when we are at war with ourselves, with others and with nature.


Polarization in society and amongst communities often leads to ineffective solutions or a perpetuation of what is. We need new metaphors and new visions of the society that we wish to create and we need alternative paths to travel to that destination.


We need to understand that the issues we face, whether it be inequality, Covid-19 or the environmental crisis, are all related. They speak to the need for a deeper shift in our understanding of who we are as human beings, and how we relate to each other and to the Earth. More pertinently, they point to the spiritual crisis and uncertainty we all experience, due the shaking of our own foundations of what we think life ought to be about.


There is now, more than ever, a need for us to find what we have in common and what it is that we as a global and local community wish to create in the future, and for the sake of our children and grandchildren. We do not stand alone in that longing. Many of our spiritual traditions point to that longing.  


Quran 14:48

“The day will come when this earth will be substituted with a new earth, and also the heavens, and everyone will be brought before GOD, the One, the Supreme.”


Isaiah 65:17 

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth …”


In view of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in facing the Covid-19 pandemic and the environmental crisis, we cannot continue down the same path and expect a different result. We all need to ask ourselves the deep and penetrating question of Grace Black Elk, the granddaughter of the famous holy man Black Elk:


“How are we breaking the Sacred Circle of Life through our daily actions?”


When we consider this question, may we all find the courage, the compassion and the deep wisdom to become a protector and nurturer of the Sacred Circle of Life, in which we all participate. Let us do so to prevent events like Hiroshima and Nagasaki from re-occurring and so that we may reverse the devastating effects of human activity on planet Earth that we are now witnessing and living through. 


We created the current structure and way of life of our human society, and we can change it. Let us do so non-violently and with a deep sense of hope and growing purpose as our various religious tradition implore us to do. The many acts of hope and reconciliation that followed on from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, stand as a testament to the new possibilities that can emerge. 


The story of Sadako Sasaki told by her brother is a great example. You will find it here: 


In addition, Rev Nima Taylor writes…


As minister of the Cape Town Unitarians, we support SAFCEI in their efforts to stop any new nuclear energy plants in South Africa. One of our Unitarian principles is, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.” It is imperative we all work towards a world powered by alternative energy.


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