The Golden Rule is a small sailboat with a storied past and big mission. Sixty one years ago, she was instrumental in ending atmospheric nuclear testing and today she’s sailing across the Pacific for a nuclear free future. She is scheduled to make port of call on Kaua‘i on Dec. 1, according to news release.
In the mid-1950s, sign-holding and writing to congresspeople wasn’t working for Tom Bigelow and his Quaker community. Radioactive fallout from nuclear detonations by the U.S. and Russia circled the Earth. It was turning up in cows’ and mothers’ milk. He bought the 32-foot wooden-hull ketch Golden Rule and set out from Hawaii bound for the Marshall Islands intent on disrupting the bomb tests. They were intercepted by the Coast Guard and returned to Honolulu where the crew was arrested and jailed.
Their example inspired others and sparked a worldwide protest. The result was a treaty in 1963 ending all above ground testing.
But the damage incurred was horrendous. Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. dropped the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima sized bombs every day on Bikini and Enewetak Atolls.
Is today much different? Treaties signed with Russia between the end of World War II and 20 years ago, limiting nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering them, have been terminated in the last 20 years. New technologies make the possibility of a nuclear launch, intended or accidental (remember the false nuclear attack alert?) more real, and reaction time shortened to seconds.
Golden Rule’s crew and sponsor Veterans For Peace will appear at events around Kaua‘i between Dec. 1 and 10. Their mission is to educate and inspire people across the Pacific to take action and support “back from the brink” proposals that they will feature in their presentations. Their event schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.