(Editorial from 1945 edition of The Quill [former name for Signet])
The atomic era is a pressing reality. No longer can we say that it cannot happen, for it has happened. When the atomic bomb was dropped by an American airplane, America assumed the most awful responsibility that any nation has ever faced. We quite literally hold the future of the world in our hands today. If this new discovery is used wisely, the long dreamed period of eternal peace and world-wide prosperity will in time be ushered in. If it is not handled sanely, the greatest era of chaos and human sacrifice that history has ever recorded will result.
Today we say that the price of human life is cheap, but if the atomic bomb and its derivatives are not turned into a useful channel, there will be no price on human life. When one man could sit in Washington, our capital city, press a button and obliterate a city in France, or Spain, or Russia, killing all the inhabitants and wiping out their material culture, what hope would there be for the world? And we cannot consider this in an abstract way, for it would not be “they” who would be involved, but it would be “we.” Something concrete must be done now to control this agency of either destruction or of peace. It is the duty of every American citizen, every citizen of the world, to see that this is done; for we are the ones who would see the terrible result of atomic energy it it were allowed to bring on a third world war.
2018 Photograph: Belk Chapel, by Nathan Williams