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Norman Cousins’ Accomplishments

Thirty years ago I was introduced to Norman Cousins, a quintessential iconoclast, by Robert Maynard Hutchins, a quintessential iconoclast. From Cousins, with whom I worked on many sociopolitical projects, I soon learned the importance of being a citizen rather than merely a resident--and the value of responsible dissent: while always loving this great country of ours, always striving to set it right when we think it is going wrong.

Our shared obsession was the need to end the nuclear arms race before it ends the human race. Cousins urged me to take on the leadership of the 1982 California Nuclear Weapons Freeze Initiative and then served throughout that long campaign as a key adviser on strategy and tactics.

What I most admired in this man of many talents was an extraordinary blend of wit, wisdom and warmth.

His life literally touched millions around the world, so his death will be a loss to many, among them those who benefited from Cousins’ introduction of humor as a healing element.

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Knowing him well for many years, I find myself feeling that Norman Cousins might have been pleased to be remembered with these words: He taught us how to laugh. But he also taught us how to live.

HAROLD WILLENS, Los Angeles


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