Push for the Prize: A Response from Professor Bill Wickersham

Dear Mr. Matsumura,

I have recently read your very compelling article “The Powerful and Fading Message of Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s Global Survivors:  The Case for a Group Nobel Prize.” As a long time professor of peace studies, and one who has promoted nuclear disarmament for almost 50 years, I think your blog and Nobel Peace Prize campaign are very critical elements for the promotion of a worldwide movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons from Planet Earth.

Bill Wickersham, Adjunct Professor of Peace Studies, University of Missouri


Over the years, my sub-specialty in educational psychology and peace studies has been the problem of social and psychological obstacles which hinder personal, group, national and international efforts to mobilize public demand for the elimination of the omnicidal threat.  Unfortunately, those obstacles, including ignorance, denial and apathy, have blocked most such mobilization, with the possible exception of the worldwide ” Nuclear Freeze ” movement of the 1980s, which was aimed more at arms control than truly deep cuts and abolition of nuclear weapons.

Historically, hundreds of fine non-governmental organizations have provided excellent research, information and program/action recommendations aimed at citizen involvement on behalf of nuclear disarmament.  In so doing, the NGOs have provided essential data for the “head” but, in large measure, have failed to truly reach the “heart”  of their audiences in a way that strongly moves people to action.

One major exception to this failing was the project initiated by my former boss, noted editor and peace advocate, the late Norman Cousins, who in 1955, brought 25 young female Japanese A-bomb survivors to the United States for plastic surgery, other medical treatment, and meetings with prominent U.S. leaders and other U.S. citizens.  The medical care was donated by New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, and involved 125 operations on the women, rebuilding lips, noses, hands, and eyelids, thus allowing them a promising future. Other expenses were covered by the Quakers and other donors.  This project was important for two reasons.  It was a fine example of human reconciliation, and it also helped many Americans to concretely FEEL and understand the real human price of nuclear war.  The problem was no longer an abstraction for the Americans who met with, and interacted with the young Japanese women.  Philosopher Jean Paul Sartre has noted that the biggest crime of our time is to make that which is concrete into something that is abstract. And, of course, this is a major roadblock of the whole issue of nuclear extinction without representation.  It is the ultimate abstraction for many people.  Norman’s project overcame this obstacle, and for a brief period, his project stimulated several U.S. NGOs to step up their organizing efforts for nuclear disarmament.  It is unfortunate that he did not have a blog such as yours to reach the hearts of people everywhere.

In the past few years, our Missouri University Nuclear Disarmament Education Team (MUNDET), other elements of our peace studies program and our Mid-Missouri chapter of Veterans for Peace, have used films and photographic exhibits of the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to reach the emotional core of our students, civic and faith groups, and other audiences.  We have found this approach to be very effective in terms of attitude change on the part of most participants.  We, like you, have steered clear of the U.S assailant/Japanese victim theme and “blame game” approach, and have instead stressed the incredible danger and insanity of the nuclear deterrence myth.

Children and adults around the world are frequently taught that we must learn the lessons of history so we will not repeat the repeat the mistakes of the past.  This is precisely the approach you are so skillfully offering with your very attractive website, blog and carefully crafted campaign for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, including several from countries other than Japan who were residents in those cities at the time of the atomic bombings. Their history and voices of reconciliation are truly the most important messages required by the human species if it is to survive the nuclear madness. Consequently, that history and their voices must not be allowed to fade away.

It is my sincere hope that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee will accept your proposal for a group prize arrangement for the A-bomb survivors.  I believe such an arrangement could be a triggering mechanism for widespread mobilization of citizens everywhere on behalf of nuclear weapons abolition.  If there is any way that I and our MUNDET team may be of assistance in your campaign,  please let me know.


Bill Wickersham,
Adjunct Professor of Peace Studies University of Missouri, USA  



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