People awoke on August 6, 1945, to a new world. They realised that the dropping of the first atomic bomb meant either the end of war or the end of civilisation. Has science gone too far? Is the discovery of atomic energy for the good of mankind? These are the questions people are now asking.
It is in no sense an overstatement to say that we, who are privileged to be alive today, are living through a cataclysm in human history. The development of the atom bomb and its subsequent use against Japan are events to which no comparison can be found in recorded history. In fact, it makes us realise that man has devised means of destroying the civilised world he has so long strived to perfect.
Originally, war was a trial of strength and courage, but now it has become a trial of scientific knowledge. It was a race for the atomic bomb. If the Germans had won, Nazism would have covered the face of the earth. But scientific superiority is no more a test of the fairness of one’s cause than superior physique.
The effects of the use of atomic weapons are before us. Now we have to ask ourselves: By whom, and how, will the new discovery be directed and controlled? We have summoned terrible powers, now who will see that they don’t run amok?
No sane person anywhere would leave these gigantic forces to be exploited by private enterprise. Even if their control is in the hands of one or more countries no one is safe. The threat to humanity merely becomes more deadly. There must clearly be the strictest control over the raw materials used in atomic energy and the uses to which they are put. And this control must be exercised in the interests of the world at large. There is no other way to safeguard the world’s future.
Only a few weeks after the signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945, the world realised that the world order established at San Francisco was not sufficiently strong or sufficiently watertight. There is a need to develop a system that recognises sovereignty as supreme. If the reminders of the appalling devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forces the world to accept this basic truth, it will prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Today, the world is confronted by a moral crisis, which it has no choice but to resolve. The revolution in science must carry with it a revolution in our hearts and minds. It is up to us to either decide to impose, once and for all, the rule of law throughout the world or to subject humanity’s future to blind hazard.
The world has to decide what it wants: the death throes of civilisation or the beginnings of a new and saner world?