An Inner Disarmament: What Each of Us Can Do for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament

Two people talking from a stage.
Opening the Senzatomica “Disarm the Future” event [Photo courtesy of Valeria Collina]

Peace starts with a transformation within the heart of each of us. It begins, especially, with us transforming our tendencies to disregard the lives of those who we see as our “enemies.” This is the core idea that animates Senzatomica, a youth-led nuclear disarmament movement started by Soka Gakkai Italy. A Senzatomica event in 2023 brought together speakers from different fields who reflected on peace and on the question of what each of us can do to help create a world free of nuclear weapons.

Here are some of the ideas that emerged the event.

Be Conscious of the Words We Use and How We Communicate

Five speakers seated on a stage
Journalists at the event discuss peace reporting in the media [Photo courtesy of Valeria Collina

Be conscious of our communication, the words we use every day. Do our words and way of communicating contribute to a culture of peace or a culture of division? Journalist Monica Perosino encouraged participants at the event to create the habits of avoiding words that insult, label, stereotype and put others down.

Learn How to Manage Conflict

Conflict is part of life. What is important is to learn how to manage it. Most crucially, we must overcome the pattern of responding to conflict with the impulse to annihilate the other. This is the mentality that predominates in war and the impulse that allows ordinary people to be dragged into war when conflicts arise. When we learn to manage conflict, we are already creating a different future, said Claudia Pratelli, a City Councilor from Rome. She promotes teaching conflict management in schools, where children learn mutual support from an early age. Education, she said, is the most powerful weapon of peace.

In the beginning, none of us knew anything about nuclear weapons, but each and every one of us can do something.

Strengthen Your Conviction in Peace

A man playing piano on stage
Pietro Morello performs during the event [Photo courtesy of Jessica Guidi]

What are the triggers inside and outside of us leading up to war? “War is not just the waging of war. It is the thought of waging it, the threat of violence.” It is not just the act itself but everything that goes before it, said musician Pietro Morello, an artist committed to opposing war and defending children’s rights. “An idea in itself does not stop war. But our use of it does, if we believe in it. Believe it! Peace is a choice.”

Invest Responsibly

Close up of a man speaking into a microphone
Aldo Bonati [Photo courtesy of Valeria Collina]

How is it possible to imagine a world free of nuclear weapons without talking about the funding that supports their production, asked Aldo Bonati of the ethical asset management company Etica SGR. He spoke about the power of ethical investing, namely, ensuring that our investments do not support investment in nuclear weapons. If we have a checking account, he said, we can go to our bank and ask what their policy is with respect to funding companies that produce or develop nuclear weapons.

Raise Your Voice

How can we get started? It can all seem quite overwhelming. However, this feeling is exactly the place to begin. Four young activists spoke from their experience:

Four women and a man seated on stage under a large display
Young activists encourage the audience to become engaged in peace activities. [Photo courtesy of Valeria Collina]

Marzia Grimaldi, Red Cross Italy: “It doesn’t matter where you start, or how you start. What matters is to start with what you have.”

Vaessa Hanson, ICAN: “We can start by informing our family and friends. Even a single post that we share is important.”

Alice Filiberto, Youth4TPNW: “Even those who do not now feel committed to these big issues can find their own way to contribute to peace.”

Alessja Trama, Senzatomica: “In the beginning, none of us knew anything about nuclear weapons, but each and every one of us can do something . . . Now I know that if we are together, we can achieve the impossible.”

Remember Your Humanity

A man on stage under a large display of a nuclear explosion
Massimo Temporellli [Photo courtesy of Matteo Torre]

Around a thousand young people attended the event. “It is always young people who lead the revolution that change the world,” said popular science writer Massimo Temporellli, who spoke about how Albert Einstein, at the age of 25, with his scientific theories, changed the way we understand the universe.

In 1955, Einstein and the philosopher Bertrand Russell published the Russell-Einstein manifesto, a statement calling for an end to nuclear weapons and war. It poses a question that concerns us all: “Shall we put an end to the human race: or shall mankind renounce war? . . . Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.”

Let us remember our humanity and the humanity of others.

Illustration of 2 hands breaking a bomb
[© wenjin chen/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images]

Adapted from issue 797 of Il Nuovo Rinascimento, Soka Gakkai Italy.