I think that it is fair to say that we live in scary and dangerous times. For as much as we may want to deny or ignore it, the world around us is frightening, especially for us as Americans. In fact, it is likely the case that there are more people in the world who hate us and wish us ill than there are who appreciate us and respect us. Our allies may be few and far between. It is a scary time to be alive.
I am reading a novel right now which is a fictional account of an investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in October, 2000, less than a year before the World Trade Center tragedy. While I know that the events and characters are made up, the spite with which certain peoples and groups hold Westerners and, specifically, Americans, is certainly legitimate. The idea that there are people out there who wish us harm for no reason other than the country of our birth is harrowing.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the imaginations of writers have on occasion became realities, whether it be journeys to outer space, Big Brother, or nuclear submarines. Look around, though—so much of our current entertainment is premised on the utter destruction and devastation of our country and our world. Just look at the shows on television, movies in the theater, or books on the bestseller lists. The apocalypse is great entertainment. But given the fiction of our past becoming reality, are we closer to Armageddon than we may like to admit? With so much firepower at the disposal of our enemies, could it really happen?
I think we all would like to think that it wouldn’t, that it couldn’t. But…?
Given the state of our world and the terrors that seemingly could occur at any time, I have often wondered if there might have been a better time to be alive than the present. Kind of a weird thing to consider, I know. I mean, seriously… how could we live without Honey Boo Boo?
Yet, looking back on the history of our country and our world, I don’t know that there really was a better time to be alive. Thinking back to our parents’ generation, there were times when the belief was that a nuclear bomb would hit America at any time, that the Russians were ready and willing to start World War III, a true war to end all wars, the war that would wipe out all existence from the face of the earth. The generation before that was faced with yet another possibility of devastation, that from attack on American soil from both directions, the east and the west. World War II was a total global conflict which, if extended and further intensified, could have resulted in the invasion of America by our enemies.
At all times during the world’s history, there has been the threat of attack, invasion, disease, famine, weather, earthquakes, and oppression. Whether it be threats from the outside or threats from within, I hesitate to find a time in which everything was just peaceful and perfect. It seems that no generation has lived or may in the future live in this world without the constant and looming possibility of peril. It seems that we as human beings are no different from the animals that joined Noah on his Ark. There are predators everywhere, the fittest will survive, but in the end, we may be nothing more than just animals. For as much as we as human beings pride ourselves on the attributes and traits which set us aside from the animals, our ability to feel compassion, to create great works of art and music and literature, to communicate at the highest level and to harness the powers of nature for tremendous technological advancements, it seems that the basest of animal instincts and urges may just be a damned fact of life. I think that, of all things, may be the greatest of tragedies and, hope against all hope, our world’s supreme downfall.
I guess we as a society can only hope that if it is going to happen- if the animal instincts of humans do take over and our ability to rationalize and empathize is overtaken- that it happens to another generation at another time. Not now. I have too much of life still left to enjoy. And if we could also spare our children’s generations, and their children’s generations, and their children’s generations… and maybe a few generations after that… well?
But getting back to my initial proposition… I wouldn’t want to live in any other time in our world’s history. I don’t think my life would be complete without the Kardashians and Taylor Swift.
To quote that greatest of Americans and ambassadors to the world, Jerry Springer: “Take care of yourself, and each other.”