I th0ught we were past all of this.
Shame on me for being so foolish and naive to underestimate the inherent thirst for power — even at the risk of death and destruction — of some of my fellow humans.
I spent the majority of my childhood 1980s, when the spectre of a nuclear war was so prevalent that it seeped out of the evening news updates and into sports and pop culture. During the Cold War, Olympic hockey games became about much more than two teams trying to score the most goals — it became the backdrop for political drama. Hollywood wasted no time in taking the threat of war, repackaging it, throwing in some cool action sequences and then making millions off of it with movies such as “War Games” and “Red Dawn.”
We heard terms such as “nuclear winter” and “Star Wars defense system” and “mutually assured destruction” so many times that we became desensitized to them. They became merely background noise as we went about our daily business. Going to sleep every night and waking up every day knowing this could be the day someone pushed the button probably made us numb to the entire process.
I think we forgot how to be afraid.
Eventually, however, peace came and we forgot what we had been so fearful of to begin with. As the “Red Army” was dismantled and the threat of nuclear war seemed to vanish through the 1990s, we would eventually find a new enemy to fight. With the rise of terrorism — culminating in the bombings of Sept. 11, 2001 — we had a new threat to worry about.
As horrible and as frightening as they were, however, we never again had to worry about nuclear war.
Or so it seemed.
Or so we thought.
Or so we hoped.
It seems as though the uneasy (nuclear) peace we enjoyed for so long has come to an end, thanks in large part to the rapid ascension of North Korea’s nuclear presence in the world. All of a sudden, ISIS and the Taliban and whatever other terrorist cells are out there have been pushed to the back pages. It’s all North Korea, all the time.
Because they’ve got the nukes (it would seem) and don’t appear to have any compunction about using them.
These are dangerous times in which we are living. Today alone, I’ve seen three stories from credible news sources telling us what to do if there’s a nuclear attack.
This is what we have come to … again? We really have to live in a world in which we tell our children the safest possible course of action should bombs start falling from the sky? When they read things in the newspaper or hear them on the news and they come to us with questions, we have to look them in the eye and tell them there are bad people in this world who want to blow up our entire country for no discernible reason other than they can?
I thought we were past all of this.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sure what the answers are in dealing with the situation in North Korea. Ignoring the problem certainly won’t get us anywhere. There’s a good chance we’ve passed the point of diplomacy and effective sanctions. I’m not sure war — particularly a nuclear war — is going to get us anywhere.
What the right course of action is in the coming days, weeks and months will need to be decided by people well above my pay grade.
Of this much I am certain, however. Should push come to shove — and guns come to bombs — people are going to die. Lots of people. In this case, possibly thousands or even millions of people. People who have done nothing wrong and don’t deserve to die will do just that.
We are all just pawns in a game of incredibly scary game of chess that could have global — and possibly final — ramifications. Ultimately average citizens can do very little to determine what happens next. Whatever world leaders decide is what we are going to have to live (or possibly die) with. The best we can do is watch … and pray.
I thought we were past all of this.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong