|Surviving Human Nature|
There is a noble tradition of pacifism that continues into the 21st century without much success. Universal disarmament is a prerequisite for humanity. While reptilian belligerence is programmed into the human brain, these programs can be inhibited and transcended. There are alternatives to fighting and killing. Smart, kind-hearted humans will need to focus on the successful methods of maintaining tolerance and peaceful coexistence. An equitable distribution of resources and wealth is one of the prerequisites. An enlarging human population faces climate change, habitat destruction, epidemic diseases and increasingly scarce supplies of drinkable water and safe food. The obstacles to peace in the 21st century appear to be formidable.
The scientists that opposed the development of nuclear weapons are examples of smart, pragmatic people who used a variety of strategies to advance human well-being. Einstein is the worlds’ best known scientist. According to Levenson, a producer of NOVA's Einstein Revealed, Einstein was the greatest of the great.
Newton created modern physics using mathematical descriptions that are still in use everyday on planet earth. Einstein, as a 26 year-old patent examiner in Switzerland, created the Special Theory of Relativity in 1905. He demonstrated that measurements of time and distance vary as any object moves relative to another object, revising Newton’s assumption that space and time are absolute. At the end of the 20th century, Time magazine in the US declared that Einstein was the ”Person of the Century“ In the last ten years of his life, Einstein warned against the extreme dangers of nuclear weapons, advocated nuclear disarmament and international cooperation. He proposed a world government that could enforce disarmament and impose negotiated settlements to disputes among nations.
Einstein joined some of the smartest, nicest humans on the planet in intelligent opposition to nuclear bomb development, tests that contaminate air, soil and water with radioactive materials. He believed that rational thinking could supersede the self-destructive features of human nature. In association with Bertrand Russell, the British mathematician and philosopher, a manifesto of reason was issued that remains a guide for nice and smart people who will continue to seek a peaceful planet.
The Russell-Einstein Manifesto begins::
“In the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft. We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. The world is full of conflicts; and, overshadowing all minor conflicts, the titanic struggle between Communism and anti-Communism. Almost everybody who is politically conscious has strong feelings about one or more of these issues; but we want you, if you can, to set aside such feelings and consider yourselves only as members of a biological species which has had a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire. We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it. We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps.
“The question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest that will be disastrous to all parties? The general public, and many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. It is understood that the new bombs are more powerful than the old, and that, while one A-bomb could obliterate Hiroshima, one H-bomb could obliterate the largest cities, such as London, New York, and Moscow. In an H-bomb war, great cities would be obliterated. But this is one of the minor disasters that would have to be faced. If everybody in London, New York, and Moscow were exterminated, the world might, in the course of a few centuries, recover from the blow. But we now know, especially since the Bikini test, that nuclear bombs spread destruction over a very much wider area … There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death. ”