Dr. Andreas Toupadakis
Former employee of National Livermore Laboratory
Our Personal Responsibility In The Nuclear Age
My Dear Earth Companions,
I was born in Crete, a beautiful island of Greece where even from a very young age I heard about a dreadful act committed against humanity during WW-II in Japan. I consider it a privilege to be here today, to feel your history first hand.
Several months ago while many people were celebrating the dawn of the new millennium, I was going through the most agonizing time of my life. What should I do? I had a wife with a part time job without insurance, and two teenage daughters. What should I do? I followed the highest call, the call of my conscience. I saw the homicide about to be committed against all forms of life on our planet. On January 31st of this year, 2000, I resigned from a permanent, highly paid position in the Stockpile Stewardship Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. I was working on the long-term maintenance of nuclear weapons. My act was an act of love for all humanity, all life. Great thinkers of the past have commented on the meaning of life. "An unexamined life is not worth living," said Socrates. Einstein the physicist said: "Only a life lived for others is a life worth while."
My resignation created a great response. Many newspaper articles appeared in the U.S. and in Greece. I have been interviewed on numerous radio shows, and have received many invitations for speaking engagements around the world. Individuals I have never met have written to me from many nations to express their support and gratitude for my act. I believe that this excitement reveals the aspiration of the human soul, which cries out for peace despite the terrible plans of a few. The deception of preparing for war in order to have peace is not the will of humanity. Trusting in bombs instead of the Creator is not the will of the people. Preparing for peace in order to have peace is the will of humankind.
Let us start talking about solutions and acting rather than just describing the problem. Activists today spend an incredible amount of resources to describe the hell we have created, fewer are talking about solutions, and even fewer are acting on the suggested solutions. We will not see any real change towards peace unless we start caring for one another and stop caring for our institutions. Let us give our hand to one another instead of to the institutions. We have paid the price for war for too many years. Let us become willing to pay the price for peace.
For the first time in the academic history of the human species, we must consciously establish programs in our schools to promote peace. We must replace the culture of violence with a culture of peace. We must act now, each of us, to avoid the universal catastrophe that Einstein and others predicted. Our governments will not do this for us. People around the world want to live in peace. They do not want to continue to be deceived and manipulated by their governments to accept war and devastation as a path to peace. We must bring the voices of indigenous people, communities, NGO's and scientists together. It is time to take responsibility for the harm we have inflicted upon the earth and its life.
Since my resignation I have envisioned a group made up of scientists and engineers, medical doctors, journalists, indigenous people and so forth, who will travel in a bus around the United States to talk to students about peace, the abolition of nuclear weapons, health, and environmental issues. The "Traveling Teachers project, as I like to call it, has found support in the form of great enthusiasm from many activists, among them being Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. This can become a model for a similar group in every country.
Worldwide the public is kept in ignorance of the facts about weapons of mass destruction. People have the right to know the truth about this thorn of humanity; they have the right to decide if they want to go on with this burden, which is already unbearable if they want to protect life for future generations. People in each nation have the right to know.
Along with the great danger because of the existence of nuclear weapons, we must also recognize the danger and untold health effects because of the use of nuclear power. The grand and ultimate illusion is that man can provide a substitute for the elemental workings of nature. Let us not fool ourselves. There is only one way. Humankind must recognize the necessity of co-operating with nature. If we do not wake up soon, very soon, and adopt simple lives, then our natural habitats will be destroyed by a ferociously angry climate, if the nuclear bombs do not destroy them first.
Japan is the nation with people who have suffered the effects of the atomic bomb. I feel your duty as my duty. I join you with all my heart, soul, and body to fly like birds around the globe to announce the choices we have. I will not conclude my message without bringing attention to the root of our troubles. Let us not fool ourselves. So long as we invest in organizations of profit, nuclear weapons will never be abolished. Thus the choice is clear. If the people of the world choose to exploit each other with the clever mechanisms they have invented, then the dreadful day is waiting to happen. Our societies are in chaos because those with power force their way by violence. Our duty is to realize who the ones who create this kind of power really are.
I have been called an antinuclear hero in my native country of Greece
and in my adopted country, the USA. This brings me pain. I
will not be relieved from this pain until the day that every human being
in every city and village small or large has seen and heard all the details
of your supreme tragedy from 1945 until now. That is my vision and
I ask you to join me. This tremendous task is perhaps the most difficult
phase for arousing public opinion as a whole. I need your help to
do this. Thank you.
Go back to the Menu of the Conference