Given a consistent pattern of human conflict going back thousands of years it’s reasonable to propose that so long as we possess nuclear weapons sooner or later we will use them. Today’s leading political figures show little interest in the subject of nuclear weapons, even in the midst of a U.S. Presidential campaign, so it follows that we are currently drifting towards some level of Biblical scale calamity.
Who’s The Problem?
It can help to understand that the real problem, the real obstacle, is not the politicians but we the average citizens.
In the Western democracies at least, politicians are not leaders but followers. They stay in power by putting their finger in the air to see which way the public opinion wind is blowing. They may not be responsive our individual opinions, but they have to be responsive to the opinion’s held by the majority or they are soon out of job.
So the real question is, why are we in the general public not demanding that our elected officials focus on nuclear weapons?
The answer may be that we experience nuclear weapons as an intellectual abstraction which has little emotional impact. With each passing day those who were alive during WWII or the Cuban Missile Crisis are departing this Earth, and to the group consensus that remains nuclear weapons are experienced more as a part of history than as a current threat. And even we seniors have with long practice become quite skilled at keeping the threat of nuclear apocalypse at a safe emotional distance.
And so we the voting public don’t speak out about nuclear weapons. The politicians hear our silence, and mimic it.
Who Can Save Us?
If heart of the problem is the distant abstract relationship we average citizens have with nuclear weapons, our lack of emotional engagement, who can wake us up out of the complacent dream which afflicts us?
Let’s hope it’s not one of the world’s nuclear weapon states, as the use of their nukes could quite possibly escalate out of control and convert our complacent dream in to game ending nightmare.
Who then? Well, I gave the answer away in the title of this article.
All evidence and logic point strongly towards nuclear weapons being used again. If that’s true, such a horrific event might have a silver lining. If the next nuclear attack takes out only a single city, that could be enough to wake us up, without removing our ability to take the action needed to avoid THE BIG ONE.
If we consider the media hurricane that followed the attacks of 9/11 it’s not hard to believe that a nuclear attack on a city which kills 100 times as many people is likely to be the biggest media event of our lives. Suddenly, over night, that which we’ve long ignored will be the only thing any one is talking about. In that environment we all will start speaking out and demanding action, and the politicians will again mimic our behavior.
Pain Is Our Teacher
If we can look objectively upon our own personal experience and human history overall, it becomes clear that we humans typically don’t learn from reasoned calculations, but from pain.
As evidence, consider the history of Europe. Even though Europe was the home of high culture, science, philosophy and the Christian religion, it didn’t stop ceaselessly warring within itself until WWII reduced most of the continent to a pile of rubble. The problem wasn’t that Europeans were stupid, it was that they were human, and they had to see the coming end for themselves to believe it. They had to experience the pain. A lot of pain. Reason alone just wasn’t enough.
It was the psychopath Adolph Hitler who finally brought peace to Europe after centuries of pointless warfare. Should we be expecting a similar “savior” in our time?