I vividly remember one dark Idaho winter’s night as my teenage self was writing in my diary, I thought, “What’s the point of even thinking about what I want to do for a future when we’re just gonna blow ourselves up anyway?”
I took some comfort in Billy Graham when he came through my hometown area of Boise, Idaho and said ‘Nuclear war won’t be the end of mankind, there’s the rapture instead.’ or some platitude thereof, forcefully spoke, affirming the cyclical prophecy of “Our national leaders are provoking a war but the bible says there’ll be wars and rumors of wars and great destruction like Armageddon so it’s all good.” I mean, I can see now the pseudo-peace religion brings , back then the words sort-of helped.
Back then there were cancellations of Olympic games and Gorbachev and Reagan enjoying some dance of power vis a vis ‘strong language’ and ‘diplomatic warnings’. No one really wants to blow up half the planet, so there was a lot of bark, but not so much bite; until this President.
I know he’s unhinged, one need only look at his twitter rages to figure that out. I know he’s full of hyperbole and as Scott Adams vociferously posits, Trump always opens with the most insane highest bid, and negotiates down from there. Problem is, international diplomacy is an entirely different board game than monopoly. At the moment my only confidence in anything is maybe a cautious Congress and General Kelly as Chief of Staff who probably understands more than anyone else in the WH the actual logistics of war.
None of that mattered when the old fear of nuclear war came crashing down after Trump made his “fire and fury” announcement toward North Korea. “Breathe” I told myself. “Cooler heads and minds will prevail,” I thought, with some confidence. Then I realized that my fifty-something self doesn’t have to be frozen with fear like my teenage self was.
I have the power and knowledge to deal with this fear. I understand that humanity probably learned a lesson after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and most of us (including our leaders) are reticent to re-live something similar. Where there was some international support for a nuclear attack on Japan, thankfully, today there’s international opposition to nuclear options, and some of our leaders still care about optics. I have the ability to call my congresspersons and hold them accountable, they are my employees after all. I have power in the freedom to write and encourage others to understand that fear need not be picked up and carried around. It can stay swimming in the stream of consciousness without being caught, taken home, and devoured. I am now aware that action deters fear more than any other recourse, I will act with my keyboard, with bridge-building discussions, with the knowledge that others are doing the same. Solace is acquired with action.
So while this nation once again visits the specter of nuclear war, and for a moment that fear of no future came crashing down upon me, my adult self is confident in action instead. I wish the same for you.