Whoa, all this from catching a glimpse of a dooms-day clock surrounded by funky scientists in white lab coats, as I was clicking through the cable trying to find something to bring on sleep – certainly not images to stimulate the brain —
During my high school years the hands on the dooms-day clock were adjusted to read five minutes to midnight, signifying how much closer mankind was to the end of the world. Each night numbers crawled across the TV screen indicating war dead, it didn’t matter if you switched channels, the numbers were all the same. Practicing bomb raid exercises (your desk will shield you from nuclear fallout + don’t look at the bright light) occupied part of every month (line up single file, cross the street to walk to Ste Peter & Paul Church basement, huddle quietly, wait for signal to return to class). More time was devoted to this than to fire drills, today students practice color coded safety drills to protect them from interior and exterior terrorists. Back in the ’60s we were all practicing to die together, or not, though luck and location offered relevant targets with higher numbers than childhood leukemia reaped each year.
Air raid shelters were touted as fail-safe structures that could save whole families from radiation poisoning by filtering the air, and from starvation through well stocked pantries of canned goods and hard biscuits. Even the Girl Scouts had a plan to help prepare people to cheat the clock, the Boy Scouts probably had plans since their motto was to always be prepared. They were miniature soldiers, their uniforms were based on British World War I attire minus the gas mask, while the Girl Scouts (their green dresses were most likely based on WAV uniforms) could help manage crowd control and offer refreshments.
My whole childhood was steeped in death, from kindergarten to high school graduation casino odds makers were calculating who would win the Cold War. Total war scenarios with high collateral damage stats didn’t seem to inspire our country’s leaders to give a damn about little second graders or promising seniors; we were all expendable. No wonder my generation used sex and drugs to waste our minds, hasn’t anyone ever put two and two together? It warped our minds, it desensitized us.
Eminent death by nuclear annihilation or invasion by Russian communists played nightly in our dreams, we were told again and again in magazine and newspaper articles, on radio and TV, plays and movies, that we would be the last generation before the world ended in a mushroom cloud. Even our leaders were unsafe and assassinations claimed all but one Kennedy brother, things went topsy-turvy, confusing young and old alike. The enemy became us and we couldn’t deal with it so we had to go outside of ourselves and experience lives that ultimately went up in marijuana smoke/hazy alcoholic benders.
[The pictures of Kent State proved that the government was unwilling to listen to its citizens, in fact, citizens were on the government’s hit lists. It took stronger drugs to get us through the ’80s, to dull our minds and spirit, to stop asking questions and diverting answers, to use our extended lives to promote democracy and capitalism in third world countries and protect/help oil rich nations escape fanaticism.]
By 2013, after surviving the Mayan end time, my generation will have officially lived beyond all expectations: the JFK assassination documents will be released after being sealed for 50 years. I will be 59 and definitely not ready to take up arms in anger and revolt against what, really – all the players will be dead or dying. Even though religion puts a rosy glow on forgiving and accepting Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior, and glorifying in the Apocalyptic end time events, drugs prescribed for depression, anxiety, nausea, and arthritic pain will ensure a nice buzz to dull our attention and stifle any plans to survive into our ripe old age.
Sour grapes. We are reminded to only eat peeled fruit and drink water from a metal canteens. And of course, we are directed to find the exits in an orderly manner if chaos breaks out. Sometimes Piglet, in his efforts to redirect Pooh’s sadness, sounds a little tinny, a little hollow, a little fake. No need for hallucinogenic trips because I think we’ve already arrived.
I don’t rag on todays teens in their goth black, teens with skull tats, dark song lyrics, werewolves and vampires, death their walking companion. Death isn’t their culture – they are living, or trying to live, surrounded by the same confusion I had to deal with at their age – they are aware that they don’t own time and that death/war taints their drinking water. How can we curse them for our own sins?