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Nuclear weapons are Issue Zero

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Youth Activists at the Women's March 2020 / Photo Credit: Beyond the Bomb

Cecili Thompson Williams, executive director of Beyond the Bomb, highlights the importance of youth activism and leadership to ensure a nuclear weapons-free future.

Young activists, more than any generation before them, understand that the issues they are most concerned about are interconnected. For this reason, we refer to nuclear weapons as “Issue Zero.” Regardless of what gets you up in the morning, what you cherish, what motivates you - nuclear weapons have the potential to take it all away. As people think about the things that are most important to them in the world - the things they want to fight for or against, nuclear weapons don’t often make the top of the list. But, for everything that does, nuclear weapons are a potential force of destruction. They stand apart from our priorities - they are Issue Zero. 

Public demand is the silver bullet that will force common sense changes in public policy. Our activists are sparking that demand for No First Use (NFU) by saturating the public narrative with information about this foundational policy and the need for boldness, making this issue something everyday people, particularly youth and young adults, can act on in a meaningful way by advocating for NFU and encouraging their communities to do the same. But, we are also keenly aware that there are other fights out there that are just as critical and, often, seemingly more urgent. That’s why we invite activists working on every issue - from healthcare to climate change, from immigration to water access, from women’s rights to animal protection - to protect what they hold most dear and join the fight for No First Use while continuing their critical work on other issues. And, we know that young leaders, with the right tools and knowledge, will be the ones to make it so.

A perfect example is activist Molly Hurley. This summer, Molly joined the BombSquad through our inaugural fellowship program. Throughout the course of her fellowship she learned about the nuclear threat and our strategies for solving it through grassroots advocacy and partnership engagement. 

In October, Molly wrote a blog about the intricate ties between money and nuclear policy that resonated strongly among Washington policy experts. In November, Molly attended SquadLab where she learned, strategized, and bonded with activists from across the country working to dismantle the nuclear system. 

Molly is the future - a nuclear weapons-free future with bold leadership and smart decision making.

But, Molly is also the present. She is out in her community today and everyday, fighting for a better world. She is engaging students on her campus, signing up more activists, and demanding answers from policy makers and candidates. Bottomline: Molly is making a difference. 

Molly gives me hope and a profound sense of optimism. But, you know what infinitely magnifies that? Molly is just one of hundreds of BombSquad activists across the country who are taking on the nuclear system...and winning.

And, here’s the critical thing. We won’t win without them. For too long, nuclear policy has been confined to “experts” - further removing regular people from an existential crisis that impacts us all. To counter this, Beyond the Bomb activists, “the BombSquad,” are talking about nuclear policy, their concerns, and what they are doing about it wherever they can.

The next generation is ready for common sense nuclear policy and we are committed to generating 100,000 conversations - with friends, family, community members, and policy makers - to drive a new narrative in the United States.


Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Elders or The Elders Foundation

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