Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 4. March 23rd, 1950
You Don't Know Uno
You Don't Know Uno
Of all the problems facing the world today two are the most argent, two are a continuing threat to the existence of mankind: the problems of finding food, and taming power.
We in this comfortable country can scarcely imagine the starvation, squalor and ignorance in which half the human race live. Many of us do not care (being more interested in horses); most do not know what is even now being done; and nearly all would, if challenged, protest with an irresponsible defeatism, "What can I do about it?"
The chief menace to world peace today is the religion of Power, a religion comprised of many jarring sects, each with its own pet dogma: "The Dignity of Authority," "The Fitness of the White Races (or Big Business, or The Intellectuals, or The Workers) to Rule." "The Glory of the 'Balonian State'; worst of all, the anachronistic theory of Sovereignty—a most immoral doctrine which has found far too many able minds ready to prostitute themselves in its service. (This state of affairs was ably criticised by Dr. K. R. Popper in "The Open Society and its Enemies," a book which is obtainable from the Wellington Public Libraries).
These problems are world-wide, and must be attacked the world over. Everywhere men and women of good will have an individual duty to all other individuals to study these problems, and work and pay for their solution. Most of us have been guilty of criminal negligence. [unclear: But] we need not continue to be so guilty. There is a way for every individual to help the human struggle to build a lasting peace, and to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a living reality.
In the United Nations lies the only hope for humanity; a slender hope perhaps, but that depends on you. And if that hope fails, we must look forward 'to some nightmare world like that portrayed in Huxley's "Ape and Essence." For a popular outline of the realities of atomic destruction, see "One World or None." (Wellington Public libraries).
In those vast views papers which purport to be the "free Press" we see a distorted picture, suggesting that U.N. serves only as a place where Powers called Great can meet to thumb noses at each other. This is a monstrous falsification, achieved not so much by the more obvious lies (as the ranting of Vansittart) as by the ignoring of the concrete facts of the solid achievements of the United Nations, more particularly, of the specialized agencies. The fact that New Zealand has done less than it should have for some of these may be a contributing cause of this virtual suppression of news. We have a duty as citizens to urge whatever government we may have to act in these matters.
But criticism must be informed. The information is available, but not widely known or sought after. The key periodical on current activities of the United Nations as a whole is the "United Nations Bulletin," published by the U.N. Department of Public Information. (See the VUC Library). The U.N.D.P.I. also publishes a great quantity of informative literature, ranging from yearbooks to readable pamphlets, such as "Basic Facts about the United Nations," "Guide to the U.N. Charter," a continuing series on "What the United Nations is Doing"—for Non-Self-Governing Territories—for Status of Women—the Convention on Genocide. There is also an excellent series of cyclostyled "Background Papers" on selected, topics. I have one before me now, and appropriately enough, it concerns the "U.N. Conference on Freedom of Information."
All these and many others, including F.A.O. Bulletin, and UNESCO Courier can be obtained from: The United Nations Association of New Zealand, Room 210, Nathan's Buildings, Grey Street Wellington. Phone 44-331.
I would be glad to receive a note in the Men's Letter Rack from anyone interested in forming a group at VUC to discuss U.N. topics, preferably as an offshoot of the Wellington Branch of U.N.A.N.Z.
In concluding, I would recommend to your his quotation from the Constitution of UNESCO.
"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."
—Colin Francis Vance