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Home » Secretariat updates » Jeffrey Levett: ASPHER’s International Peace Laureate

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Jeffrey Levett: ASPHER’s International Peace Laureate
17 Feb 2020

ASPHER congratulates Jeffrey Levett a long standing professor and dean of the Athens School of Public Health, past president, ASPHER and Member of the United Nations family of the European Center for Peace and  Development, who has been designated an International Gusi Peace Laureate, 2019, for services to international public health, dissemination of Greek philosophical ideas and for work in academia.

This award was given in Manila for which he was given the Key to its City. It is referred to as the foremost award in Asia and Nobel peace prize of the East. It carries no monetary reward but comes with the expectation that its recipients will continue working for peace. An extract from the acceptance speech of JEFFREY LEVETT follows:

As thinking beings we have to wonder which system will collapse next: another part of the environment as a result of climate change; health from a global pandemic; a button pressed initiating nuclear conflagration; the collapse of an economic or banking network, a time when artificial intelligence might take over or some other unexpected disaster for which we are ill prepared. At that moment in time, 120 symbolic seconds to midnight, a time when the unexpected should be awaited, when uncertainty, mindlessness and a distortion of reality characterize our current moment, the work of the Gusi Foundation becomes even more significant to world peace. To cease upon the midnight with no pain is the poet’s understanding of that dramatic moment but Midnight is also the awful moment when a button can be pressed, a key turned, a leaver moved and weapons of mass destruction released from the large stockpile. A few moments later other buttons will be pressed. As Midnight approaches, WWIII comes closer and will be over in 60 minutes.  One hour later culture dies, languages fall silent, books are no longer read, and radio and television fail to broadcast.  Museums, music halls, law courts, churches of all denominations, parliamentary houses, and libraries lie in rubble. The chimes of Big Ben will not make it to the 12th chime. No baby cries, no cherry ripens and there is no further need for any olive branch. At that apocalyptic moment millions of years of evolution will unravel and the complexity to sustain human consciousness will disintegrate. The ticking clock can only be turned back by ridding the world of nuclear weapons, by politics recognizing the true dimensions of climate change in a world of reduced poverty and inequality, where racism is curbed, civic education for all is ensured, tempered by the wisdom and morality embedded in Greek Classical Philosophy and a peace that passeth all understanding, prevails. In subscribing to the words of St Paul, we say although we are hard pressed on every side, we are not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Despair was never better expressed than  by Aeschylus: pain so intense, not forgotten, even in sleep, falling from the heart, drop-by drop, until in our despair, against our will, Wisdom comes, through the terrible grace of God; The wisdom in Aeschylus is philosophy, which provides a road to peace. Our highest-level goal is to preserve our humanity by reinforcing human rights and exerting our civic responsibility as global citizens and through policy to provide for our children and our children’s children the means to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives as citizens of a less hostile earth within the framework of the golden mean. Should that awful moment come any survivor will be homeless, hungry, in darkness, cold and contaminated.

GREECE GETS A GUSI, Instruments and institutions for Peace, wsimag.
A Declaration of Skopje: Public Health, Peace and Human Rights, 2001
Athens ASPHER Accord, 2016


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