Friday, October 27, 2017

The Ides of October

On this day 55 years ago, the world came very close to nuclear war--I've heard more than one historian say that Oct. 27, 1963 was the day that the world was closest except for the two previous days when bombs were actually dropped.

It was the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my parents had set their wedding for this day.  In the weeks leading up to their wedding, they fully expected that my dad, who was in the Air Force, would be called back to his base.  He wasn't, and they wed.

It's strange to think about those days during these days, when the world seems to be tottering backwards to those scary standoffs.  It's strange to think about the days of the Kennedy administration, even as some of the last documents about Kennedy's assassination are being declassified and released.

I try not to think about Kennedy's vast knowledge of history and how that knowledge helped him avert war.  Kennedy didn't want to telegraph the wrong messages.  I'm so grateful that he was successful.  That crisis could have so easily ended in a nuclear exchange.

I try not to think about how those in charge now are not similarly educated.  Yesterday, when I went to Publix to get a variety of supplies for upcoming school event, the bagger cautioned me against getting a flu shot. She said, "There's a flu shot out there that can alter your DNA, you know. It can change your behavior." I thought about explaining how a flu shot really can't alter your DNA, and even with altered DNA, your behavior isn't likely to change radically, and then I decided to let this opportunity for science education pass.

I wish I thought it was just undereducated hourly workers at Publix who have these odd beliefs, but I know it's not.  Still, like my parents, I will embrace hope, not despair.  They could have decided not to marry when the world was about to go up in flames.

The world is still about to go up in flames--or underwater.  But we can't assume that we'll die.  In fact, we're likely to live.

So let us buy our pumpkins and get ready for Halloween--or whatever other activities bring us joy.  Let us recommit ourselves to love and hope.  And let us also say a prayer for those in charge of massive weapons systems.  Let them not telegraph the wrong messages.

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