The creation of nuclear weapons is a milestone in mankind’s history. It not only teaches us that we are capable of destroying ourselves, but also that a society that doesn’t live in harmony –like ours– is eventually bound to do so: weapons continually become more sophisticated and once there are weapons of mass destruction it is only a matter of time before they are used. This does not mean that we will destroy ourselves in the near future, but that to guarantee our survival we must discover why we have conflicts with each other and with our environment.
Not living in harmony means a struggle for resources. Because of this struggle, an ever smaller group of people gets hold of an increasingly larger proportion of all the available resources, leaving everyone else with an increasingly smaller proportion. This in turn leads to increasing levels of tension among people, and between them and their environment. And as weapons continually become more sophisticated (in order to survive, people become more inventive), it is easy to foresee where this will eventually lead us.
We cannot afford an atomic war because we would not survive it. We can actually no longer afford any conflict at all, since history teaches us that a minor conflict can escalate into a world war. The creation of nuclear weapons thus shows us that our future is closely linked to that of everyone else. It teaches us that we are all in the same boat and that if this goes down*, everybody –rich and poor, believers and non-believers, good and evil– will perish.
To avoid mankind’s self-destruction, instead of only taking care of our own well-being we should also worry about the welfare of everyone else. When we reflect upon our struggle for resources –the Great Game**–, we will come to the conclusion that the ‘survival of the smartest’ is not much better than the ‘survival of the strongest. It is because it enables a small group of people to get hold of most of the available resources that the ‘survival of the smartest’ (our days of peace) eventually leads to the ‘survival of the strongest (our days of war). When people no longer see a future with the ‘survival of the smartest’, they turn to the ‘survival of the strongest.
* It doesn’t matter whether our planet is destroyed by a nuclear war or becomes uninhabitable because of climate change. Either way, it will be the end of our civilization.
**In the past 'The Great Game' referred to the conflict between Great Britan and Russia over the control of Central Asia. Today the name is used to refer to the struggle for resources, since many people treat it as a great game.