Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Apocalypse Pending

by Richard Crews
When I was a little sprout, Nazi submarines could be sighted off the coast of Long Island; the street lights were turned off and we blackened our windows at night so as not to help German bombers find their way to New York City. When the Axis was defeated in 1945, the civilized world heaved a sigh of relief--but not for long. Within a few years the Cold War came along; for decades the world was fractions of a second away, at every instant of the day and night, from global annihilation.

Now that the Russians have been bankrupted into docility, we find ourselves moving swiftly into civilization threats like global warming, terrorism, population explosion, pandemics, worldwide water loss and contamination, and more.

Perhaps it has always been so. If it wasn't the Goths and Visigoths, the Huns and Persians, the Vikings and Infidels who were threatening to slaughter your family and town, and burn your crops and dwellings to the ground, then the local feudal landlord and his toughs were just as likely to do it to you--painfully and permanently.

Going back even farther, it seems that a few tens of thousands of years ago a giant volcanic eruption cast a climate pall around the world and drove our species to the brink of extinction.

But somehow the human race has always managed to pull through. It almost makes one believe in God or fate or something like that, although such superstitious cheeriness is a hard sell pending more definitive evidence. Even George Bernard Shaw has Joan of Arc (a religious fanatic but also an extreme military and political activist) say, "If we leave to God to do the things that we should do ourselves, we shall be defeated and serve us right."

In the 1960s I declined to have children because it seemed close to certain that they would not have a chance to live out a reasonably full life cycle. In 1970, I reneged--and Andy has now made it to age 40, and experienced a full spectrum of life struggles and triumphs.

My present--and final--consolation is that, at age 73, I shall soon be passing on to "a greater rest than I have ever known." I am losing interest in the deeply violent and poisonous legacy my generation seems determined to leave behind.

Ah, me! We shall see.