Tonight as we were eating dinner my wife shared of when she was a little girl who grew up in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis. She said she often wondered if someday she’d come home and someone would have started a nuclear war. I grew up in those times too. We had civil defense drills in school. We’d be instructed to hide under our desks or place our heads next to the corridor wall to protect us from the blast. Families and schools built “fallout shelters” and they were stocked with blankets and other emergency items to ensure we survived the unthinkable aftermath of nuclear war.
That was almost sixty years ago. The threat of nuclear war loomed over all of us who grew up in the post World War II 1950’s and 1960’s. There was the Berlin buildup, Vietnam and the peace movement. Then the roaring 80’s of Reaganomics and a possible clash with the Russians. The threat of nuclear war loomed briefly once again. There were low grade wars in the middle east because of our addiction to oil. Thousands of Americans lost their lives along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s and other residents of the lands we fought on. The all volunteer force allowed most Americans the luxury of not having to be involved. Shared sacrifice was replaced with glib, “thank you for your service.” We could be distant and cold to the needs of the poor, the marginalized and to the planet itself.
There were the prophets who warned us there was a day of reckoning in the future. It was our children and grand-children who would pay the price of our disconnection with the planet and with each other. Politicians told us that we could not afford to disrupt our economy to address the needs of the planet. We ignored violent tornadoes, one hundred year floods that occurred with increasing severity, fires that burned out of control and threatened entire ecosystems.
Now we are in the grip of a pandemic that threatens the existence of our civilization. We are locked down in our homes. Afraid to to touch our neighbors or worse yet breathe on them. Doctors and nurses are dying to save us. We, in the richest country on earth lack adequate medical supplies and infrastructure to save our citizens. The cost in human life is immense. One expert today suggested that 200,000 people in the United States alone will perish. The world wide total will be in the millions. There is no known cure for the virus. Is this the apocalypse? Our vast weapons systems that cost trillions of dollars are powerless to stop the pandemic. Our military is infected and faces a threat they’ve never known. Field hospitals are being setup all over the country and the world to care for those who need them.
Yesterday as I walked in the woods near my home I saw deer who crossed my path. There were some robins too. There were some beautiful flowers along the trail. I wondered if I would be here next year to see them. Will this be my final spring? Will this be our final spring? Be sure to tell the people around you that you love them. Make sure your affairs are in order. There are no guarantees. Make peace with each other and with the planet. Live simply so others can simply live. Pray for each other even for those you don’t like.