By David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Recently, a friend sent me a copy of Admiral Hyman Rickover’s 1982 Morgenthau Memorial Lecture. The lecture, given under the auspices of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, was entitled, “Thoughts on Man’s Purpose in Life.” In the lecture, Rickover, who died in 1986 but remains widely respected for his role in building the US nuclear navy, spoke of “some basic principles of existence, propounded by thinkers through the ages….” Among these, he focused on responsibility, perseverance, excellence, creativity and courage, and he called for these to be “wedded to intellectual growth and development.”
I agree with the admiral on his choice of principles to give purpose to one’s life. If one can live by these principles, his or her life is likely to be purposeful. Yet, I think that Admiral Rickover missed an important point, which is: what one does with one’s life matters. Rickover chose to focus his professional activities on the development of a nuclear navy. In the questions following his speech, he was asked: “How can we equate nuclear weapons and warfare with moral and ethical values?”
He had a ready answer.
Read more here: Bringing Purpose to Bear on Nuclear Arms.