Peace at home and abroad

News of gang activity in area 4. Long nerve-wracking waits at Logan due to another terror plot. The chaos and bloodshed in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine (and Iraq). It seems like so many of the things that make us afraid, we can do so little about. While neighbors and governments get together to find solutions to these problems, there are a few things that we can do something that we know will help now.

Cambridge has been a progressive leader as a green city and a city for peace. We now have an opportunity to start a peaceful change both for ourselves and for those who suffer much worse abroad.

The 1984 Bhopal Chemical Disaster took the lives of 22,000 people in the last 22 years due to the crimes and negligence of Union Carbide and current owner Dow Chemical. A catastrophic overnight gas leak that killed over 7,000 within a few days was just the beginning for impoverished people in the city of Bhopal, India. Ten to 15 people still die every month from the after effects and severe water and land contamination that Dow Chemical refuses to clean up. Since Dow is based in the US, it has so far refused to face criminal charges in India, or to help the survivors with medical care or economic rehabilitation.

Why does this matter for Cambridge, one might ask? A resolution is being proposed in the Cambridge City Council that would not only make life a little better for those suffering so far away in Bhopal, but also allow those of us a home to breathe a little easier as well.

Dow Chemical, responsible for clean up of Bhopal, is also the author of dioxin contamination in Michigan, in Agent Orange in Vietnam in and our veteran's bodies, silicone breast implants, toxic dry cleaners, pesticides that sicken our children and so on. The resolution put to City Council asks us to not only condemn Dow's human rights violations in Bhopal, but encourages the city to switch away from Dow's toxic products – from cleaning chemicals to pesticides – that are known to trigger asthma and cause other health problems. The proposed resolution also encourages the city's retirement system to co-file shareholder resolutions urging Dow to take action in Bhopal. Dow is the largest chemical company in the world. By clearing our air of Dow's toxic products, we are not only cutting down on our children's asthma and allergies; we are giving the gift of a little peace to survivors who now know that a whole city – Cambridge – cares. And at the same time, we are starting a rolling effort that will be picked up by supporters across the country – who are watching for what progressive Cambridge will do.

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