Lown & Rotblat: Hope on the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima

Today, Thursday, August 6, is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, an event that altered the trajectory of global armed conflict, increasing the potential for catastrophic levels of destruction barely comprehensible to the human mind. Center founder Daisaku Ikeda has always placed the abolition of nuclear weapons at the heart of his efforts toward global peace. Mr. Ikeda says: "The idea that nuclear weapons function to deter war and are therefore a “necessary evil” is a core impediment to their elimination; this idea must be challenged and dismantled." He adds that:

It is vital that humankind develop a shared consciousness that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil whose existence can never be justified—for any reason or under any circumstance. We must promote the understanding that it is impossible to construct one’s own happiness and security on the fear and suffering of others; and this understanding must be coupled with the compassion, empathy and courage to resist all attempts to do so.

Joseph RotblatHere at the Ikeda Center we have had the opportunity to consult with many leaders in the global nuclear weapons abolition movement, including Joesph Rotblat (right) and Bernard Lown, both of whom received Nobel peace prizes for their work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. Both have felt frustration at the relative lack of substantive reductions in nuclear arsenals and the nuclear threat. Yet both express hope. Interviewed by Center staff in 1997, Dr. Rotblat said:

The elimination of war is coming about. Look at the world today compared with the time when I was young. In the last two world wars the mortal enemies were Germany and France; now the idea of Germany and France fighting is just inconceivable. There has been a complete revolution, but people don't realize how much progress we've already made in this direction. Nowadays any type of military conflict could escalate, involve the rest of the world, and bring down humanity. Therefore, we have to develop in ourselves a sense of loyalty to humankind. This is an important thing that each of us can do. Each of us has a number of loyalties: the family, our circle of work, the village, a town, nation. This is where it has stopped. At the moment, loyalty to the nation is supreme. What I'm saying is that without giving up loyalty to the nation, extend it to all of humankind. This is where we have to go.

Bernard LownInterviewed by Masao Yokota on the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima, Dr. Lown (right) talked about the hope he derives from the success of the group he founded with Evgeni Chazov,  International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which was awarded the Nobel in 1985.

History has been taught in a way that neutralizes people’s movements. History is all about kings, prime ministers, presidents, brilliant leaders, and mostly generals, or admirals. If you listen to history, most of us are merely pawns, six billion little pawns, checkers on a huge board. That’s wrong. History ultimately is the advancing consciousness of people who compel certain realities. The great statesmen are those who comprehend what the people wish for and what is possible. When they come on the stage and do that, the people say, “Oh! What a great leader!” But that great leader would not be a great leader without the people’s power, which has always been a decisive factor in history. So, sure, IPPNW is a people’s movement. And I’m proud of that.

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