Sep 112011

Paying attention to the news these past couple years and it’s easy to get the sense that everything is coming to a calamitous end. The environment’s gone haywire, the economy is irreparably broken, and so on. That today happens to be *that* anniversary only crystallizes how unstable the world feels right now.

The thing about that though is for the first ten years or so I was alive I was absolutely convinced the world was going to burn in nuclear fire. It was plain as day that at some point the US and USSR would stop playing coy and lob ICBMs at each other. “Weird” Al made jokes about it, we and movies with the aftermath, World War III was just a given. And then of course it wasn’t, the Soviet Union collapsed, the bombs were put into storage and we stumbled our way on.

It occurs to me that I am probably of the last generation to grow up with those fears and certainties, and part of me is almost nostalgic for those times because it does seem simpler. But at the same time who wants to live in a world where everyone is sure they’re going to burn? Then again, it was a more focused fear, less nebulous than a terrorist bomb, more final than an underwater mortgage, the erosion of the middle class, and systemic unemployment. You don’t have to worry about the aftermath of a nuclear war because odds are you won’t be alive when it’s over.

Still, whenever I get too down over the state of the world I think back to being a kid, absolutely convinced in a nuclear apocalypse that never came, and it makes me feel a little better.

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