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Bernard Lown's Message


PSR was born in my home in Newton Mass in 1961. Except for myself, the doctor activists were all in their twenties.   We undertook the herculean task to educate a cowed, terrified public on the medical consequences of nuclear war. We addressed the incomprehensible. Our voices made a difference. The public listened. The most enduring memory of that bygone age was the prodigious energies, the penetrating intelligence and the unswerving commitment of this pioneering group.  

Twenty years later the lessons learned, enabled us to organize a global movement.  At the time the arsenals of the two superpowers were stockpiled with obscene nuclear overkill. The world came close to extinction.   The IPPNW was unprecedented in its growth and global impact. We contributed to a profound historic transformation, none too soon, and helped stop a gallop toward the brink.

Perhaps the most important lesson to be drawn from our antinuclear campaign is a sense of hard-headed optimism. For the physician whose role is to affirm life, optimism is a medical imperative. Our movement's history lends sanction to this view.  Against overwhelming odds, a small cadre of passionately committed physicians roused multitudes. This would not have been possible without the numerous student activists who because they were unfazed by the impossible achieved the seemingly unattainable.  The world needs your commitment. Your life as health professionals will be fulfilled by responding without equivocation.

Bernard Lown, MD

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