Soon after Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity, linking matter and energy, the scientific world recognized that humanity had crossed an existential threshold. Profoundly, mankind had entered a new era, one in which the old ways of thinking and the old modes of operation would become not just obsolete but suicidal. Despite the intervening 100+ years, which includes two World Wars and countless other local conflicts, mankind is still resisting the obvious implications of a new reality and its inherent call to a radical new paradigm.
The work of Einstein, and subsequent related scientific discoveries, remain esoteric and profoundly counter intuitive concept to most laymen. That not withstanding, the public at large is fully ware of the existence of the resulting nuclear weapons, having seen first hand the final days of WWII and/or having grown up with the threat of seeing such weapon used again. Since the first such weapon was detonated over sixty years ago, the nations with nuclear weapons have followed two parallel strategies in attempting to deal with the threat that such weapons impose on civilization. The first strategy was called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and by almost any measure was madness of the surest sort. The second strategy was called Nuclear Nonprolifieration, an attempt by those who have nuclear arsenals to prevent other nations from obtaining their own. Its practice apparently assumes that the current nuclearly armed nations are smart and ethical enough to manage such weapons without ever precipitating a nuclear event. Of course, that assumption is supplemented by the basic inconsistency of claiming the right to be so armed and denying that right to others who are just late in getting into the arms race.
As mankind has wrestled with the dangers of this new reality, we have continued to think and act the same way we always have. Threats are addressed by counter threats and the striving for military advantage. The age old wisdom is that our security is dependent on our ability to fight back and inflict unacceptable pain. This is supposedly the only sure way to respond to security threats. It is classical thinking that finds its roots in the earliest annuls of human history.
As technology has demonstrated, the human capability for destruction expands in pace with our more positive advancement. With that in mind, it seems reasonable to assume that as we go forward, the nuclear threat, as devastating as it is, may well be supplanted by something even worse. Additionally, one might easily assume that current weapons will, in the long run, just become more available, instead of less. What worldwide strategy then protects humanity from self destruction? Will more "madness" work a second time? Will a newly developing world, meekly acquiesce to the desires of current nuclear nations and refrain from securing their own defense with atomic weapons? That seems more a vain wish than an actual plan.
Loud and insistent voices in our society constantly trumpet the necessity to be ever armed and dangerous if we want to be secure, meaning able to enjoy our current advantageous position in the world. Of course, being so dedicated, inevitably leads to using military capability. Military power is ever intoxicating.
Absolutely nothing that I have recounted above is in any way a new thought or revelation. It is also likely accepted as true by the vast majority of people when they bother to stop and think at all. A moment's honest reflection on where we are and where we are likely headed in managing the threat of armed conflicts should cause us to wonder about the viability of continuing to meet violence with violence. When any approach to an external threat involves our own, ultimate destruction, that approach is as much a threat as the original.
One has to wonder if this day and time was not in the mind of Christ when He told his followers to treat their enemies with love and thereby disarm them. Someone has suggested that the way to defeat your enemy is to make him your friend. Maybe when our enemies no longer feel threatened by us, they will feel no need to protect themselves by threatening us in return. We can piously claim to make no unnecessary threats, but as long as anyone feels justified in the use of violence, mankind will experience violence, perhaps with the final result that most of us are trying to avoid.