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New Strategies and Challenges for Nuclear Abolition in the Obama Era- delivered by Dr. Joseph Gerson, Director of Peace and Economic Security, American Friends Service Committee on April 21, 2010 in Philadelphia.

In May at the United Nations, world leaders will gather to re-negotiate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In response, thousands of international peace activists are converging upon New York for a weekend of action to make nuclear abolition a reality "in our lifetimes!"

Since August of 1945 AFSC has had a consistant stance against the use of nuclear weapons. Starting in the 1950s, AFSC created a series of films about militarism, nuclear weapons, and war. 

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After 300 years, William Penn’s words to the American Indians remain poignant – and an example of how to reach across the chasms that divide us.

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More than a hundred years ago, Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden Pond, was jailed for not paying his taxes.  His thoughts during incarceration became “Civil Disobedience,” which in turn influenced Gandhi’s work in India during the middle of the 20th century.  Thoreau’s words still ring true today.

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Although the percentage is somewhat smaller than this 1960s clip cites - the current United States current military budget eats up almost 60% of all discretionary spending – and accounts for nearly half of all money spent on defense around the world.

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The words of General Douglas MacArthur, President Dwight Eisenhower, and Dr. Albert Schweitzer may come from the past, but they can also light our way to the future.

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One of our most famous families of supporters are the entertainers (father) John and (daughter) Bonnie Raitt. Their roots in peace go back to the early 1960s, when John Raitt starred in an AFSC-produced film urging nuclear disarmament.  We present these clips from “Which Way the Wind?” to show that even when things change, they remain the same.

When John Raitt, Marsha Hunt, and James Whitmore made this film almost 50 years ago, the world remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki vividly.  That memory has faded.  The nuclear threat remains.

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On any given day, as many as 80,000 men and women are locked in solitary in U.S. prisons—alone for 23 hours a day. This video captures the visceral experience and long term impact of that isolation.

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Last November 1, as the sun rose over a farm near Dover, New Hampshire the Eyes Wide Open crew once again began laying out more than two thousand pairs of boots representing the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq.  But this was not a standard stop on the nation-wide tour of AFSC’s acclaimed anti-war exhibit.

The boots were being prepared to play a role in a music video for blues musician Robert Cray’s poignant new song, “Twenty”, telling the story of a young soldier, who questions his mission in Iraq, but is killed before his deployment is up.

The video, directed by Robert Cray’s wife, Susan Turner-Cray stars Aidan Delgado, a 23-year-old Iraq-war veteran who served in Nasiriyah and at Abu Ghraib prison, before securing conscientious objector status and returning to the U.S.  David Goodman, one of the Eyes Wide Open tour managers, has a cameo role in the video as a Vietnam Veteran.

The Crays had heard about the Eyes Wide Open exhibit, but had not seen it when they began developing ideas for the music video. They contacted the Chicago AFSC office and began arrangements to feature the exhibit in the production.  After many potential sites were considered, the rolling hills behind the New Hampshire farmhouse of Todd and Kristin Adelman was offered and chosen. Cinematographer, Jonathon Millman signed on to shoot the video and other local actors and crew joined the effort – donating their time out of commitment to the concept.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Cray’s album, also named “Twenty” has been nominated for a Grammy as Best Contemporary Blues Album.

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AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more

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