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6 August 1945- 65Years of a Shattered World
by Rene Wadlow
2010-08-06 08:47:53
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The new atomic energy will be at the service of the rulers; it will change their strength but not their aims. The underlying populations should regard this new source of energy with lively interest — the interest of victims.

                                                        Dwight Macdonald (1945)

The Atomic Age began on a stretch of desert in Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA, on 16 July 1945. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the project that developed the atomic bomb recalled the lines from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita where Kishna says “I am become Death, the shatter of Worlds.”

Less than a month later on 6 August, the device was used in reality in Hiroshima and three days later, another model on Nagasaki.  The start of the atomic age was also the start of the Cold War with a shattered world which lasted from 1945 until 1990 when the Conference of Paris put an officially-recognized end to the East-West Cold War.

At the same time as the start of the Atomic Age came the birth of the United Nations in San Francisco — an institution devoted to preventing the “scourge of war” which twice in the lifetimes of the drafters of the UN Charter had brought “untold sorrow to mankind.” Thus Albert Einstein was only partly correct when he wrote that “the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking.”  New ways of thinking were developing within the dark shadows of the Cold War.

Cold War thinking, not very different from the nationalistic strategic planning which had led to the two world wars, was that of what Dwight Macdonald, an American Left writer, called “the rulers”.  In the name of national security and to strengthen the two military blocs — NATO and the Warsaw Pact — a race to develop nuclear arsenals took place, drawing on the governments’ structuring of scientific talent and at great financial costs.

Yet outside of the sight of those who concentrated their attention on the awesome tools of violence, there grew a strong conviction among many that the future of humanity depends on the capacity of the present generation to combine disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and ecologically-sound development within one overarching legal framework of the United Nations system.  The creation of such a global, regional, and national security system requires urgent action on the part of many working with a global vision.

Each person can play a role in meeting the challenges of moving humanity from the shattered worlds of the Cold War to the integrated world of the world society. Much depends upon the clarity of our vision and the steadiness of our commitments. Now is the time for Krishna to say “I am the integration of the world; I am evolving Life.”


Rene Wadlow
, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens

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