Biographies & Memoirs

6. On Receiving the One World Award

I AM GREATLY TOUCHED by the signal honor which you have wished to confer upon me. In the course of my long life I have received from my fellow-men far more recognition than I deserve, and I confess that my sense of shame has always outweighed my pleasure therein. But never, on any previous occasion, has the pain so far outweighed the pleasure as now. For all of us who are concerned for peace and the triumph of reason and justice must today be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field. But however that may be, and whatever fate may have in store for us, yet we may rest assured that without the tireless efforts of those who are concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole, the lot of mankind would be still worse than in fact it even now is.

In this time of decisions so heavy with fate what we must say to our fellow-citizens seems above all to be this: where belief in the omnipotence of physical force gets the upper hand in political life this force takes on a life of its own, and proves stronger than the men who think to use force as a tool. The proposed militarization of the nation not only immediately threatens us with war; it will also slowly but surely destroy the democratic spirit and the dignity of the individual in our land. The assertion that events abroad force us to arm is wrong, we must combat it with all our strength. Actually, our own rearmament, through the reaction of other nations to it, will bring about that very situation on which its advocates seek to base their proposals.

There is only one path to peace and security: the path of supra-national organization. One-sided armament on a national basis only heightens the general uncertainty and confusion without being an effective protection.

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