Showing my age here, but when I was a teenager I saw a movie that completely ruined my life. The Day After was a 1983 drama that illustrated the immediate consequences of nuclear war. It was such a singularly depressing experience that I really don’t think I have ever been the same since.
Perhaps it was just me or the time of life I was at, perhaps it was that I understood just how truly bleak the possibilities of nuclear apocalypse really were, I don’t know. For years afterwards, I couldn’t even hear the sound of passenger jet planes in the sky and not instantly think that this was it – they were ICBMs and it was all over. For everyone.
That’s the thing about nuclear war – it’s not just you, your friends and family, not just your home, your city or even country – it’s pretty much everyone who suffers and dies in one horrible way or another. Not even that (as if that wasn’t enough) but civilisation itself, for those few last survivors, will be reduced to eking out a living in the rubble of the once grand aspiration to technological civilisation that simply and stupidly extinguished itself. Horrifying.
I don’t recommend the movie for anyone but I also recommend that almost everyone should see it. Life is so very precious and in the post-industrial economies we are drowning in superficiality and meaningless noise – even while the doomsday clock keeps Goddamn ticking. Climate change is as vast as nuclear war but is considerably less violent. I am genuinely concerned that climate change might actually be the catalyst that pushes us over the brink – geopolitical realities are already quite fragile and neurotically insistent on spiralling acceleration into untenable risk taking.
I might just be a bit over-sensitive to the possibilities of catastrophic self-incineration of a Global civilisation that could have been so much more. I don’t think peace is impossible, just that people tend to do profoundly stupid things to each other and themselves. I don’t need to reel off the horror statistics of nuclear war to you – there’s plenty already available online. If anything, forget how old the movie (now) is and watch it at least once – realise that we can so easily ruin not just the lives of a few sensitive souls who can’t bear to consider this possible human destiny but we might accidentally ruin everyone’s lives forever if we ever stumble into nuclear Armageddon.
I felt like sharing this unhappy thought. I apologise.