Letter From The President Of Science For Peace

The nineteen eighties has been a decade of rededication to the pursuit of peace. Provoked by the belligerent rhetoric of a group of ‘true believers’, who preached what had been the practice for most of the years since 1947, the people of the world have reacted against the threat of Armageddon and responded with their desire to be a bridge from past to future generations. They have said “no” to nuclear weapons.

Starting in 1981, 700 Canadian scientists have answered Eric Fawcett’s pleading question “What are we doing about it?” by joining Science for Peace. What Eric started has grown, guided and stimulated by the genius of Anatol Rapoport and the dedication of Gwen Rapoport. It has gained stature through its works. It has benefited from the wisdom and dignity of George Ignatieff.

My week in Toronto with the members of Science for Peace was exhilarating. Derek Paul, John Valleau, Jean Smith, John Dove, Lois Dove, Walter Dorn, Terry Gardner, Lynn Trainor, Don Ivey, Bill Klassen, and Metta Spencer each contributed to showing what has been accomplished and what is possible. From each of the people I met came evidence of the difference that one person can make. From Derek Paul came the evidence that it is possible to effect changes in Canadian government policies, and from Walter Dorn that basic scientific research can be aimed directly at peace. After meeting George Ignatieff, I spent the next week reading his autobiography “The Making of a Peace-monger”. What rare insights into the events of this century! As scientists, we feel compelled to explain everything so clearly that there can be no other conclusion than the one we put forth. No one lays out the truth as forthrightly as Helen Caldicott. But more than that is needed to change minds. Perhaps we need to learn diplomacy. It seems like a lost art.

Most myths have a basis in the observation of life, but there is at least one that has no basis whatsoever. A child, or even twins, raised by a wolf do not survive long enough to found Rome; our heredity requires that we be nurtured in the ways of humanity. I would like to know what does a 16 to 40 year old woman have to know today so that her sons will not grow up to destroy the world tomorrow? If I knew that, I would spend the rest of my life trying to teach it. Most of us do not teach children, other than our own. But we do have the possibility of influencing young men and women as students. How many students have we had who have gone on to work in fields directly or indirectly supporting or being supported by the arms race, perpetuating injustices, or threatening the environment? I believe that Gandhi got it right when he said ‘Peace is when parties care for one another’s welfare?

As we are told in Ploughshares Working Paper 88-1, an open letter on defence policy to Prime Minister Mulroney “The challenge is to redirect ambition, intellect, and imagination to a relentless pursuit of peace that rests on justice.”

Tony Arrott