How We Saved the World from Nuclear War

By Fleishman, Diana; Fleishman, Norman | The Humanist, March-April 2003 | Go to article overview

How We Saved the World from Nuclear War


Fleishman, Diana, Fleishman, Norman, The Humanist


We have certainly acknowledged and accepted, during our almost four-decade membership in the American Humanist Association, bedrock humanist support of rationalism and rejection of dependence on a higher power to resolve human problems. And by 1979 we had been holding meetings in Hollywood, California, homes for five years--getting writers and producers together for educational and inspirational gatherings on aspects of population issues such as birth control, overcrowding, sex education, women's rights, abortion rights, and others. Then television mogul Norman Lear asked us to consider switching the focus from population to nuclear war prevention. We agreed and by 1986 had been holding such discussion groups for seven years.

Back when we married in 1960, our first "work" was being part of a leadership program for three years in the Ethical Culture Society. This was consistent with our individual backgrounds prior to that point. We both came from families where reliance on a supernatural being was treated as nonsense. We each grew up in an atmosphere of naturalistic thinking where organized religion was seen as a convenient out from cooperative human responsibility for facing and dealing with the real problems confronting the human family.

It makes some sense, then, that the chief cause we have been associated with during our marriage has been working with various efforts to stem the glaring problem of human prodigality--the apparently infinite capacity of the human family to increase its numbers--on a finite sphere. (When we married there were a paltry 3 billion people on earth; today it has zoomed to 6.2 billion.)

Our mission really began in 1966 when then AHA Executive Director Toby McCarroll (who we had worked with as assistant director in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1964) directed us to the national office of Planned Parenthood. We worked in the New York City office, then took a position directing the PP of Houston, Texas, and subsequently ran the PP chapter in Los Angeles, California. In this latter assignment we were fortunate to break bread with Lear--who was then producing the television series All in the Family--and suggest to him that he give "Meathead" (Archie's son-in-law) a vasectomy. Lear said, "Let's talk about it," so we set up an evening at his home. We invited international family planning consultant Donald A. Collins and renowned birth-control authority Leonard Laufe to join us. During dinner, Lear's questions were answered and it was clear he loved the idea.

The result was a true-to-life and very funny episode of All in the Family. The character Gloria complains that taking care of a young human person is backbreaking work--a lifelong challenge in itself--and that there is nothing at all wrong with a one-child family. She asks why the woman should bear sole responsibility for birth control--why not the man as well? The weekly drama--with characters so well known, frequently beloved, and appearing regularly in homes across the country--discuss the sensitive issues involved thoroughly and poignantly. Michael expresses every man's fear that "it will hurt." Gloria replies, "Oh Michael--it's just snip, snip, snip," and Michael winces. The episode concludes with Michael on the couch in the urologist's office, leaning back with the doctor saying, "Okay, let's boogie."

The impact of this episode was wondrous. On the one hand, it became possible to speak to a school class or the local Kiwanis Club about birth control or overpopulation, to send out a mailing, or even have an article on the subject published in the newspaper. In addition, it was possible to reach millions of people in their homes with characters they already knew, interweaving such crucial, controversial issues into their daily lives--often brilliantly and humorously crafted--in story form. Americans were never the same after Meathead got a vasectomy.

We felt our efforts in the mid-1970s were paying off. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How We Saved the World from Nuclear War
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.