How grateful I am to be able to stand in this good company and to receive the honor that will make me a part of the great processional of those you have honored before me.
I am especially grateful to your president, David Krieger.  David has a deep pervasive ultimate concern to which he has dedicated the full force of his creative energy and imagination.  He has this crazy idea to which he has committed himself: he wants to save the earth and all its inhabitants from self-destruction.  He wants to make the planet a more peaceable habitation for all of us, and for our children and grandchildren after us.  How good it is to be counted among his followers.
Now here I bring you the words of the beloved poet, Stanley Kunitz, written when he was somewhere on his way to the 100 years he lived, before his death a few years ago.
I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon….
And here am I, an aged rabbi, who, like a peddler with a pack on his back, wherever he goes, comes bearing a pack of notions, some very old and familiar notions:  “Love thy neighbor as thyself.  It hath been told thee what is good and what the Lord requires of thee: only to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  And they shall sit, everyone, under his vine and his fig tree, with none to make them afraid.  If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  And being for myself alone, what am I?  And if not now, when?” And here, from a 1,800-year-old commentary on the Bible, the Midrash, where God is portrayed showing Adam all that has been created, and says to him: “See my works, how fine and excellent they are.  All that I have created has been given to you.  Remember this and do not corrupt and desolate the world, for if you corrupt it, there is no one after you to set it right.”
Those are ancient words and ancient visions.  They come out of the sacred books of the Jewish civilization, but surely they embody ideals and visions held sacred by Christians and Muslims, and other faiths, and non-believers as well.  To voice them here is to remember that we live in a world in which the ideals of love and fellowship and peace and justice and care for the planet, are daily being mutilated throughout the world, even here in this land, even here in Santa Barbara.  For we live in a time of broken ideals, a broken world, a fragmented humanity, which needs to be made whole.
But of all the words of the Bible, those that have been profoundly significant to all of us associated with the purposes of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation are to be found in the concluding chapters of the book of Deuteronomy.  In churches everywhere it is customary to read scripture from a book.  But in synagogues we Jews read every week from a parchment scroll we call Torah.  The Torah is written in Hebrew on a scroll which bears the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch.  Each scroll is written by hand, the work of a scribe who reverently and lovingly copies every word of it.  According to a rigorous tradition the scribe must use a quill to serve him as a pen, so that the ink will touch with gentleness the pages of the parchment.  For the Torah and the Bible it introduces is a book of peace.  Only a quill, no metal, is permitted to be the instrument of the scribe’s work.  For metal is the material of violence, of war; it may not be used in composing the book of peace.
Wherever the scribe has done his work throughout the centuries and neared the completion of it as he reached the closing chapters of the fifth book, the book of Deuteronomy, his quill has brought to the parchment these words of danger and challenge, which, ever since they were first spoken, have reverberated throughout human history: “See, I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed after you.”
To speak of choosing the way of blessing and life compels us to reckon with all that threatens life in our time, but also to raise the fearful question as to whether our civilization, so visibly incoherent and in decline, is not itself, in the throes of death. (Is such a thing possible?)   We have been so infused with the conceit that we could escape the remorseless fate that has overtaken all previous social systems—that we with all of our sophistication, with all of our so-called exceptionalism, that we with our science and industry, our democracy, our ingenuity, could violate the iron law of history.  For history has surely shown that every civilization has perished sooner or later.  Human social systems, as Robert Sinai once wrote, with their members anxious, insecure, restless, swollen with pride, driven by the will to power and by inordinate appetites, corrupted by self-intoxication and self-deception, sooner or later have sinned against the laws of proportion and harmony and have plunged into decay and self-destruction.
Now, I ask you, what of our civilization?  Small wonder that we should be uncertain.  What hurts and confuses us is the lurking suspicion that because of what we have done to the air and the earth and the cities and the children and to one another, we may possibly have been condemned to live in an age that will make no significant contribution to the human spirit.  What hurts and confuses us is the knowledge that a huge proportion of our resources, our ingenuity, our wisdom, our creative energy, leaves untouched the abiding problems of human beings who live in this troubled time.  Technological processes uninhibited by any human values other than the dream of total security have committed great and even smaller powers to collective mechanisms of destruction.  But the dream of total security has produced only the reality of total vulnerability.  As for nuclear weapons, and the several powers that possess them, we know, as I think it was George Kennan who once said, “nuclear weapons cannot bring us security, they can only bring revenge.”  If only we could banish this sterile dream and sadistic nightmare.
“We have fed the heart on fantasies,” the poet Yeats once said, “the heart’s grown brutal from the fare/  More substance in our enmities/ Than in our love.” And all of this rooted in the conviction that nothing must stand in the way of the demonstration of our power.  “Power to coerce,” Norman Cousins once wrote, “power to harm, power that intimidates intelligence, power that conquers language and renders other forms of communication incoherent and irrelevant, power becoming a theology, admitting no other gods before it…”  Surely we know that the policies to which we have been so slavishly obedient end up, as always, constituting a form of violence against the poor—the ever growing kingdom of the poor,
Yet we know there is another power within us, a power that will enable to us to say “NO” to the forces that have ruled over our thinking and feeling.  It is the power of our own critical intelligence, of our own decency, the power of the human spirit, a spiritual power present in every person, and it can be actualized.  And we shall have to actualize this power without pretending away our need for security, or that we do indeed live in a brutal world, brimming with anger and suspicion, and adversaries.
There is a story members of the clergy like to tell.  It concerns a minister (it could be a priest, a rabbi, or an imam) who wants to stage an object lesson for the members of his/her congregation, and placed a lion and a lamb in a cage outside the entrance to the church.  And they lived together in peace.  And people from miles around came to see this remarkable phenomenon.  Finally, the mayor of the city, intrigued by this feat, sent a delegation to inquire how the minister pulled off this trick.  ‘Oh, “there’s no trick at all,” said the minister.  “All you have to do is put in a fresh lamb from time to time.”
In the real world, we know very well, lions and lambs do not live together peacefully.  Even the prophet Isaiah, when he spoke of such a possibility, was referring to a messianic time.  And that’s where the rub is for us: how to face up to the truth of this real world of brutality, fear, mutual rivalry, and the need for security, and still retain hope, still work for something different.
How shall we do that?  We need some troubled people.  We need agitated people.  We need men and women who are not ashamed to be sensitive and tender with one another.  We need those who are willing to become members of a community dedicated to each other’s fulfillment.  We need men and women who have the courage to be afraid, afraid of all those forces which have removed our humanity.  And as for the vast store of nuclear weapons, we need men and women who can maintain a firm conviction that it is not so wild a dream (to borrow the words of Norman Corwin) that we can negotiate, not only to do away with the nuclear arms race, but also that we can abolish nuclear arms, altogether.  We must not let this hope be crushed amidst the powers and the principalities.  And that is why the work of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is so important.
And something more, we need to give voice to the abandoned and forgotten, and preserve a vision that can transcend the dangerous imagery of victory and defeat, a vision of a genuinely humane society, in a genuinely decent world, that we can ultimately approach a great common tenderness.
How shall I thank you for the gift of the honor you have given me?  What I could have said at the very beginning, and it might have been worthy and sufficient for this occasion, are Shakespeare’s words:
“I can no other answer make, but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.”