By Andreas Toupadakis, Ph.D.
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Following a career in industrial and classified-government positions, former nuclear scientist (and current lecturer for U.C. Davis Department of Chemistry) Andreas Toupadakis Ph.D. quit the nuclear labs in January 2000, realizing that government scientific programs are only interested in developing systems of war, not peace.
This article is adapted from a speech delivered by Dr. Toupadakis in the months following his resignation, at the “World Conference Against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs” at Waseda University in Tokyo. Almost 15 years on, Dr. Toupadakis’ message of sanity and humanity is (unfortunately) still as important today as it was then.
Refusal to Co-operate
‘Refusal to cooperate with nuclear weapons development: Leaving the job and joining the peace movement’ ~ Waseda University, Tokyo.
My Dear Colleagues and Fellow Earth Companions,
I was born in Crete, a beautiful island of Greece, where even from a very young age, I had heard about the dreadful act committed against humanity during WWII in Japan.
On a recent radio show in the USA, I was asked the question: How many more people would have been killed if the war had not ended? My answer was that we do not know. The host of the show was happy with my answer, believing many millions more would have died, which justified the use of nuclear bombs to end the war. Obviously, he understood precisely what he was conditioned to believe, not what I was trying to convey. My point was that the war was almost over and the abhorrent act was not necessary, while he saw it as a heroic act.
It is what we see that we bring into our lives. What people think is eventually manifested in the world. And the world thinks of war when it prepares for war. We still continue with the same way of thinking. We have not learned the lesson.
I consider it a privilege to be here today, to feel your history first hand. There are some people who have realized that the human species has become an endangered species and that we are running out of time. What should scientists do? How many more times can we ask that question?
We scientists who have understood the seriousness of our human condition must act on behalf of those who have not. I am asking these scientists worldwide to come together and establish a relief agency for assisting those scientists who are still within the system, but are ready to wash their hands of work that supports war; an agency that will support them in every possible way when they take the leap of faith to advocate for peace.
Let us take the food from our storage houses and provide it for those who want to work for peace but do not have the faith to depart from their unsatisfying jobs. There are thousands in this condition who have no place to turn. They are trapped. A similar relief agency should be established for military officers and other occupations that promote violence in our lives. We scientists have created a monster and it is time to take responsibility for its abolition. Let us start talking about solutions and acting rather than just describing the problem.
Activists today are spending an incredible amount of resources to describe the hell we have created, fewer are working towards 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 a hand to one another instead of to the institutions. Today I am appealing to you, a scientist to scientists. Let us make changes with determination to stop sacrificing life and instead, to support it.
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.
Let us form global partnerships here in our new role as scientists of conscience, and leave Japan, committed to concrete solutions for a nuclear-free 21st century. We must bring the voices of indigenous people, communities, and NGO’s to every scientific society. It is time to take responsibility for the harm we have inflicted upon the earth and its life.
We have over-emphasized the miracles of science and technology for the benefit of a few, and we know it. We cannot understand or find solutions to these global issues in the isolation of our laboratories and conferences. The interfacing of communities and science democratizes the process of public policy and decision-making, and demonstrates how science has served the public and how it has failed. The community knowledge perspective is necessary to improve science 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 talking 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.
It is time to take our fingers away from our calculators and talk about scientific ethics. Why can we not see our destiny? Why are we ignoring what we see? Our science policy is based on the irrational fears about survival driven by a tiny group of elite who shape public opinion. We scientists have to use our skills for humanity, not for a machine we have no control over. We are enticed into comfortable positions, grow dependent on the security, and then many of us are tormented, playing tricks with our own minds to justify continuing to work. When we start working consciously, then we can begin to change our lives.
Mainstream media in every country allow their governments to go unquestioned by citizens, while weapons of mass destruction labs stay busy. The opening of the doors of secrecy is desperately needed and long overdue. Interfacing communities and science is a new and simple solution that any of us can do. To those who believe that there is hope I say: “What are you waiting for?” Truth is the most powerful force in the universe. It is greater than the force of the atom.
Making weapons of mass destruction in the name of peace and possessing nuclear weapons is nothing but an act of murder waiting to happen. Humanity still thinks of war as a fight of many people against many people, but our times show that sooner or later it could be one man against the whole world. No nation is better than another. There are no rogue nations and nations of concern here and perfect nations there. There are people here and people there and they are expecting their leaders, who control the instruments of indiscriminate destruction, to renounce their use for permanent peace. If these elected officials will not accept this desire of the human race for the highest right, the right of survival, it will not be too long before people will begin to demand it. When the first serious miscalculation takes place, the public will react violently, either by panic or by revolt.
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. The preparation for and conducting of war is amounting to over $1 trillion annually.
Education worldwide is on the bottom of the list. Mikhail Gorbachev, addressing the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War in 1987 in Moscow stated, “As a possessor of nuclear arms, our state will never be the first to use them”. Today these statements are invalid. In the past, US presidents made good movements toward stopping nuclear tests. Today all these efforts seem to have been lost. At the same time, thousands of people worldwide are dying from cancer and suffering from pain due to past nuclear tests. People are being led like lambs to the slaughterhouse and they don’t know why or how.
Do nations possess nuclear, chemical and biological weapons because of fear of attack from some other nation, or is it mainly because without them the stronger cannot otherwise exploit the weaker? Real disarmament cannot come unless the nations of the world cease to exploit one another. And nations will not stop exploiting one another unless we stop exploiting one another individually. It will take sacrifices by all of us if humans all over the earth are to avoid the unthinkable. If a foundation or institution is corrupt you must wash your hands and withdraw from it. As Gandhi said:
“Replace greed by love and everything will come right.”
Our world is crying out for compassionate, wise, courageous, and skillful leaders to provide vision and direction. We as scientists should provide that leadership by taking the first step to form interdisciplinary partnerships and initiatives, by becoming scientist activists. We must invite indigenous and community voices to our conferences so that we
can work together to do better science.
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. We, the scientists, must take the initiative in educating people and arousing public opinion around the world to render the utmost priority to the grave issue of human survival. We must come together to seek solutions.
I would like to finish with the words of your citizen Nichidatsu Fujii:
“Civilization is neither to have electric lights, nor airplanes, nor to produce nuclear bombs. Civilization is not to kill man, not to destroy things, not to make war; civilization is to hold mutual affection and to respect each other.”
Previous articles by Andreas Toupadakis:
- Glorifying Peace Instead of War
- Creating Your Future – Arise Great Warrior, Arise!
- Unifying The Global Peace Movement – Challenges and Solutions
- The Real Face of The Empire
- Science, Secrets and Corporate Slavery
- Crisis in Science: Scientists’ Responsibility for the Survival of the Human Species
- Awaken Students! Education is for Self-Awareness and Inner Growth
- Quitting the Nuclear Labs – a Scientist’s Plea for World Peace
- Civilization Is for Making Peace, Not War
- Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action
About the author:
Born on the beautiful island of Crete in Rethymno, Greece, Andreas Toupadakis received his B.S. in Chemistry from the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki. He has lived in the U.S. since 1978, and received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1990. Following a career in industry, academia and two US Government laboratories, in 2001 Dr. Toupadakis resigned from a classified government position maintaining nuclear weaponry at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to actively contribute to the peace movement.
Since 2005, Dr. Toupadakis has been teaching at UC Davis, including courses in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry for Life Sciences. A proponent of the Socratic dialogue method, he was the winner of the 7th annual ASUCD Excellence in Education Award as UC Davis’ educator of the year in 2009. He is also the author of three chemistry study guides, and teaches two popular freshman seminars at UC Davis every quarter: “From Self-Awareness to Personal Growth for True Success in and After College” and “World Music as a Means to Embrace Diversity and Reach Self-Discovery”.
Besides teaching chemistry at UC Davis, Dr. Toupadakis has taught chemistry at several other colleges and universities in the U.S. and in Greece, and has also given lectures and written articles on life planning through wise career choice, career change and career satisfaction, and sustainable living across campuses in the U.S., Greece, Japan and recently in India.
His personal website, TheLifeCurve.com, is devoted to student success during and after college. Dr. Toupadakis spends a great deal of his free time with his students at his organic garden plot, which is provided by the Experimental College Community Garden of UC Davis. He also encourages his students to have their own garden plots.
Main image: Peace And War by iMachina