Over 2,000 physicians from over 60 nations gathered in Montreal last June, for' the 8th World Congress of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).
The theme of the Congress was, Healing Our Planet: A Global Perspective. But the underlying theme was one of guarded optimism. The Congress commenced on the heels of United States President Ronald Reagan's historic visit to the Soviet Union, which up until now he referred to as the "Evil Empire." The four-day Congress kicked off with a press conference with physicians and musicians as speakers. Seated left to right are: Boris Grebenshikov, Soviet musician, Graham Nash, American musician, Dr. Bernard Lown, Co-President IPPNW, Dr. Mary Wynne Ashford, President CPPNW, Dr. Mikhail Kuzin, Co-President, IPPNW, Michel Rivard, Quebec musician, and Bruce Cockburn, Canadian musician. The musicians held a fundraising event at Montreal's Forum ,"A Festival of Music."
Dr. Lown told the crowd how grateful he was to the musicians for being at the Congress, and for providing cultural support and solidarity. As Mr. Grebenshikov put it: "We are all the same; we shouldn't fight."
Perhaps the most controversial address given to the Congress was by Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. Stephen Lewis. In speaking of Canada's plan to spend over $8-billion to buy nuclear-propelled submarines (his opposition to the plan evident), Mr Lewis said: "I ask myself, because of course I am not permitted to be judgmental, why there never is any money in the resources of the Western economies to deal with these human imperatives..." of poverty, homelessness etc. Renowned geneticist Dr. David Suzuki urged the IPPNW to become more involved in environmental issues as well as nuclear disarmament. In an eloquent and moving speech, Dr. Suzuki accused our value system of being "perverted," and destroying the Third World. Unfortunately, Dr. Suzuki was only given 20 minutes and could not recite his entire address.
Toward the end of the Congress, delegates and participants began to feel less heavy-hearted and more on the path to healing. Next year's Congress, delegates learned, will be held in Nagasaki, Japan.