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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

United for peace

Monday, January 12th, 2015

The past week saw extremely sad events in Paris, reminding us that our society relies on a fragile equilibrium. This is just the most recent episode over the last years in a long list of events around the world – and also in Amsterdam, the city where I now live.

We have been flooded through the mass media by analyses, considerations, speeches and public actions. I don’t think it is necessary to add more here, because what we mostly need is time to think: about us as individuals and as active parts of a complex society.

Nevertheless, I would like to remind myself – and everyone who will read these thoughts – about what we can do as men and women of science. Even though fear and anger may knock at our doors, we need to find what could keep us united across different countries, cultures, religions and faiths. And fight for it.

As scientists, we are privileged: our job is to generate knowledge, the common heritage of mankind. Science is a universal endeavor involving people from every country, social background and culture. No matter what we think and believe, we collaborate daily to reach a high goal. Science, like any other intercultural enterprise, is a training for peace, and we are in extreme need of it and anything else that keeps us united in purity of interests, freedom and friendship.

The "tree of peace" in The Hague, which carries people's wishes for a better and peaceful world.

The “tree of peace” in The Hague (NL), which carries people’s wishes for a better and peaceful world.

The quest for peace is not just a hand-waving argument, nor fantasy of hopeful people: it is clearly stated even in the original documents of CERN – the European Center for Nuclear Research – signed by the founding members and shared by every single scientist working and studying there.

I. I. Rabi, an American scientist among the first supporters of CERN, greeted the 30th anniversary of CERN foundation with these words(*): “I hope all the scientists at CERN will remember to have more duties than just doing research in particle physics. They represent the results of centuries of research and study, showing the powers of the human mind. I hope they will not consider themselves technicians, but guardians of the European unity, so that Europe can protect peace in the world.”

Let’s build together a future of peace: we can do it.

(*) translated from the Italian version available here.


Balance…and Greatness

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

–by Josie Farrell, CHRP, Manager of Employee HR Services

During a recent trip to the UK, I was able to visit Beachy Head, a very dramatic chalk cliff on the south coast. The spot reminded me of the incredible impact that our own personal surroundings can have on our well-being. The chalk cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in Britain, and they are pristine and open with no boundaries or fences. Sitting at the cliff’s edge and looking out at the expansive English Channel really focused my mind. It was like my own personal retreat. (Did I mention I did not have my laptop?)

How easy it is to just accept all the clutter in our lives. Perhaps working in Human Resources make me more attuned to this fuzzy stuff, but let’s face it, most of us spend most of our time trying to survive the chaos in our daily lives –– commuting, traffic, work demands, dealing with vast amounts of e-mail, meetings, paper clutter and files, getting kids to and from school and pets to the vet—and don’t forget that significant other. You know what I mean. Our worlds can be chaos. Even physicists experience this. I know. They’ve told me so. They are human, too!

I work with many who try to juggle work and life issues to achieve some sort of balance while still focusing on their world-class research projects. Somehow, amazingly, they seem to do it. But like anything in life, there has to be moderation, there really must be balance. Each of you reading this has demands on your time.

Whenever our schedules become out of balance, our energy drops. I have read that lowered energy creates the illusion that there isn’t enough time in a day, so a vicious cycle of time limitation occurs. So why not create some simplicity in your life? You may not be able to escape and go sit at Beachy Head like I did, but you could clean some clutter from your work space or at home, or just turn your computer off. Create your own retreat for at least a moment or two in your day.

When asked how we should live our lives, Stephen Hawking replied: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.”