[A letter I sent to the regents of the University of California the semester I decided to stop cooperating with this institution.]
Dear Regents of the University of California,
We understand the enormous responsibility you have on your shoulders with each decision you take as regents. The University of California is an institution which affects not only students, faculty, staff, communities, cities, the state and the country but also affects the whole planet. Your decisions have a direct impact on humanity.
We understand that you want the best for our families and that you are looking for our safety and security. This letter is about an idea. We would like to invite you to imagine it, to conceive it, to perceive it, to do it.
George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Wright brothers, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, César Chávez, Mario Savio, Mahatma Gandhi, the Internet, Neil Armstrong… Let’s imagine and please: be remembered.
Be remembered as the regents that made history.
Be remembered as the regents who changed the course of our beloved University to support the ultimate purpose of education: being an evolved human being. One of us once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge; knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the World.”
Be remembered as the regents who started the complete demilitarization on the planet.
Be remembered as the regents that helped to brake down the dying paradigm of violence.
Be remembered as the regent who will read the World wide press release: “The regents of the University of California are honored to announce that, finally, after 60 years, this institution is no longer involved in the research and production of atomic bombs. Today, the University of California and its affiliate laboratories will be dedicated completely to humanitarian purposes (constructive scientific research, awareness of the environmental and social consequences of likely applications). In this historic day, the program Phoenix Labs is declared inaugurated and all the nations of the World are welcomed to participate in this international project.”
And recall that, first, many people laughed about the Independence of the 13 colonies, abolition of slavery, flying, civil rights, free speech, nonviolence, “instant” global communication, going to the Moon…Today they are realities.
Be remembered as the regents that abolished nuclear weapons.
Be remembered as the regents that stood up with The Earth Community.
But if you cannot step up, be remembered as the regent who resigned by his/her own will and was not forced to do it by the pressure of an awaked community.
The support of the nuclear weapons program and, now, to private-interest corporations has been doing undeniable harm to the public welfare. The use of university time, energy, and resources to aid in the creation and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction instead of refining the educational opportunities, academic diversity, and accessibility of the university is so starkly contrary to the public good as to be mind boggling.
And yet, we can imagine. Let’s imagine.
Be like those bold responsible scientists that almost 3 decades ago predicted Global Warming. Today, climate change is a reality which needs the cooperation of the entire World.
We understand that some of you are looking for resources to the university and that, from your perspective, it is reasonable to accept money from the Department of Defense and corporations. Please join us in this global effort where our means are our ends: We do not sow peace by means of war. We believe that sponsors, in line with the new emerging paradigm of nonviolence, will support our university. Don’t leave our institution behind, let’s join this Collective Intelligence movement and why not, let’s help the Department of Defense to become the Department of Peace.
Don’t be remembered as the regents who protected private-interests of irresponsible corporations. There had been enough regents that were blinded by power and greed. We had already enough regents whose names we don’t even remember. Don’t be another dusty-forgotten name.
TO BE more or to have more? That’s the question.
Be yourself and speak from the heart. Our generation and future ones will remember not empty words but your bold actions.
We need you and it only takes one courageous regent to do it. Be remembered. Be that regent. Just be.
In profound love, respect and solidarity,
Your daughters and sons and grandsons and granddaughters and family,
The citizens of the World.
Berkeley, January, 2008.