In a Saturday Night Live skit, the United States had declared war on North Korea and no one noticed. There has been plenty to distract us: hurricanes, earthquakes, and forest fires; the flight of refugees, racial protests, terrorist attacks, and a mass shooting.

Yet with all of these appalling events since August, none would wreak such immediate and complete devastation as the dropping of a nuclear bomb.

The United States and North Korea both possess nuclear weapons. As tensions escalate between them, a fog of helplessness falls upon us. Our voices seem small and incomplete as if we have no say in this conflict.

The opening words of the U.S. Bishops' Respect Life program offer solace: "When battered by life’s storms, or immersed in a dense fog of suffering and uncertainty, we may feel alone and unequipped to handle the circumstances. Yet with words that echo through thousands of years into the corners of our hearts, the Lord says to us, 'Do not fear: I am with you' (Isaiah 41:10)."

The 29th Annual Disarmament Week is October 24 – 30. Pray that the world pays attention!

Arms/defense spending is the second most lucrative global industry. A nuclear arsenal is the most destructive. "[A] limited nuclear exchange would have devastating consequences for people and the planet" (Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security, a Joint Statement from the U.S. and European Bishops).

The world's first step must be to rid itself of nuclear weapons. Its second step must be to reduce its stockpiles of weapons. Beyond reducing our stockpiles of weapons, however, the world is in desperate need of peace.

Three steps towards peace:

Peace in the world must start with peace in the heart of man and woman; we must reconcile the cleavage between faith and action. We mustn't wait for the world's leaders to cultivate peace. We are not helpless. We are people of faith. "The world will never be the dwelling place of peace, till peace has found a home in the heart of each and every person" (St. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 165).



Our moral responsibility for the common good requires farsightedness. We shout forceful monologues on what's best for us; what's best for us today. "Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society … The common good calls for social peace" (Pope Francis, Laudato Si', 157).

We must have a conversation. "Dialogue is what creates peace. It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue. All the wars, all the strife, all the unsolved problems over which we clash are due to a lack of dialogue. When there is a problem, talk: this makes peace" (Pope Francis). "All persons must desire to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong" (Pacem, 170).

Let Disarmament Week move us towards peace. Towards life.

Cato is director of the Archdiocese of Portland’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace. Fr. Libra is the archdiocese’s pro-life director and pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Portland.