EXCERPTS & REVIEWS

Dance Your Troubles Away

By Craig K. Comstock

Epilogue to Citizen Summitry: Keeping the Peace When It Matters Too Much to be Left to Politicians (edited by Don Carlson and Craig K. Comstock, published by Tarcher/St. Martin’s Press)

I began to think about a worldwide celebration [broadcast everywhere via satellite]. Instead of showing only rock stars, this celebration would also feature ordinary people dancing to their local music and becoming conscious of one another, in their joy, through the magic of "uplinks" and "downlinks"... The whole world would take the day off and everybody would link with one another. For the first time, in a single day, humanity would see itself.

But what could possibly justify, or even motivate, such a global occasion?

An image came to me of UN technicians, in front of the whole world, dismantling two thermonuclear weapons. Since these cannot be obtained on the open market, yet, they would have to be donated to the celebration by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, who would be listed as "sustaining patrons" of the party. After the radioactive material was removed, it would be rendered harmless and then stored in such a way as to be inaccessible...

In the Pacific Northwest natives used to conduct "potlatches," celebrations at which people would compete to offer the biggest gift. Prestige was based on the ability and willingness to let go of property. In modern times our biggest treasures appear to be missiles, submarines, bombers, and warheads. It’s as if we’ve been preparing for a nuclear potlatch. Why not start it?

Of course this vision is crazy. I know that. Years ago at a physics conference, I am told, someone read a theoretical paper that cut against everyone’s ways of thinking. Respondents called it crazy. Niels Bohr stood up and said: I agree the paper is crazy—the question is, is it crazy enough to be true?

      Reviewing the disappointing record of "arms control," I keep asking about new ideas: are they crazy enough to have a chance of working? The point of a global disarmament party would be less to "control arms" than to display a positive spirit between the superpowers...

      What matters here is not the specific idea for a day of celebration in response to the start of disarmament, during which humanity would see itself at its best. (And if such an idea turns out to be useful, it’s because a hundred other people have already been half-thinking it.) The work will take thousands of forms. Think of one yourself. Share it with other people, be part of doing it...