Las Quixotadas por las Quixotes
In mid June of 2007, several members of the Quinnipiac University community, including members of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, students, faculty, and administration, attended a United Nations co-sponsored conference celebration in recognition of the 20 year anniversary of the Esquipulas II Central American Peace Accords. With profound significance two signatories of this accord, former Guatemalan president Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, and current Costa Rican president President Óscar Arias Sánchez, spoke at the conference.
I was particularly struck later that evening when President Arias addressed the conferees as Quixotes; referring directly to the idealistic quests of Don Quixote. It occurred to me that President Arias was, in effect, knighting everyone in attendance with the explicit mandate to use their idealism as the grease which enables the peace machine to function. This mandate extended into three functional areas, or Quixotadas: "stopping environmental destruction, regulating the global arms trade, and using debt relief as leverage to achieve demilitarization".
The Quixotadas proposed by President Arias are entirely applicable to the preventing the myriad harmful effects of nuclear material on people and the environment so thoroughly addressed by Dr. Schweitzer during April 1957 in his Declaration of Conscience radio address to the world.
With 50 years to consider the message Dr. Schweitzer delivered, the world has been increasingly exposed to nuclear material with very few truly peaceful applications. It would however be a mistake to suggest that there is little left that can be done by the world community to eliminate the widespread possession of nuclear material.
I believe President Arias intrinsically understands that nuclear peace begins with his last Quixotada. Mitigating global economic inequities can do a great deal in promoting a peaceful world without nuclear materials. It is, after all, inequity and mistrust which have caused nations to consider arming themselves with nuclear weapons.
The second Quixotada addresses what to do once some peaceful trust has been established. We cannot ignore that possession of nuclear material is already rampant. There must be a responsible plan developed to disarm and decommission nuclear material. It will likely be one of the world's most difficult management problems in the next 100 years to remove nuclear material from man made applications in a safe manner.
For precisely this reason, Arias' first Quixotada becomes enormously important in developing a viable plan for disarmament. The environmental and social impact of nuclear material is immense. Simply removing nuclear material from warheads is not enough to meaningfully improve the world's safety without also considering the environmental impact of where that material will be safely stored.
And to that end I believe President Arias has knighted all of us as Quixotes; idealistic and optimistic in our pursuit of peace and disarmament. It would however be a mistake to suggest that idealism and optimism don't carry with them a viable means of attaining a nuclear free world. Your duty as a Quixote is explicit in that you must be vigilant, sophisticated, and creative in carrying out the Quixotadas. Begin by learning what is required of you as a Quixote, then teach what you've learned with others, and let nuclear freedom spread from person to person in the same manner that dawn sprawls across the land.
I offer you what advice I can as a fellow Quixote:
© 2004 Eric C. Lind
I once listened to
someone say they were in the winter of their life,
and yet I find it questionable to which season I belong.
It should be spring, should it not,
though perhaps late spring at that.
None the less I find that I am amazed by too few things at present,
and wondered why that is,
until I happened on my damnable perceptions;
blind and deafened by personal reprisals,
self-directed and misjudged.
Fascinating that my mind inquires better thoughts than I believe,
yet bears witness to so many who so seamlessly portray my thoughts as if to give theatre a city wide gape within which to perform.
Realizing this I began to wonder if some
others might perceive,
that they themselves bear this deaf and blind disease.
With some comfort I do wonder if we'll run into one another,
that our passing might create a tiny breeze,
for if my senses that remain, sharpened broadly just the same,
then surely I would know there's someone there.
With ignoble deft conviction,
I'd stretch out upon my mission in the hopes that I might find a someone there.
More important than this mission, if you're touched by my convictions,
is to latch on to me strongly with a squeeze,
because I cannot know you're there if I'm prowling through the air with the tenable prognosis of my deaf and blind disease.
But the senses that remain will reward you with the gain of the sense of my compassion which is purposeful in name.
I have mastered Ars Quixotic,
ignoble though my methods may be while we're on the topic,
none the less are noble deeds, for the tenable prognosis of my deaf and blind disease.
And so that this is clear since I have attention here,
I have no need for pity,
though I carry the prognosis of this deaf and blind disease.
What in Ars Quixotic means is the drive to noble deeds and a bit of dignity for those with deaf and blind disease.