Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 9, 2014

SINGER: Living in a world of nukes

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Funny how age contingents stack up on the issue. Baby boomers, including “revisionists,” took a lot for granted; however, their parents’ generation who would have supplied the bodies for a conventional invasion of Japan have been nearly unanimous: those horrific bombs with grisly mushroom clouds and all the disease and death that followed at least ended the war definitively. Few American soldiers wanted to depart Europe for the Pacific, or if already in the Far East, to continue on in that theater where they had already lost colleagues aplenty in awful conditions. So: this awesome new weapon used by Truman and still an existential menace did at least terminate a harrowing conflict. And sticking with comparative plus sides, there have certainly been beneficial applications of peacetime nuclear energy as well.

You take the good with the bad? In this kind of existential game, that phrase sounds very superficial, indeed. It’s not the same as putting up with a spouse’s penchant for certain game shows or vacation choices, or with badly-cooked burgers at a restaurant.

No longer are young people demonstrating much against the bomb, and there are no Helen Caldicotts around now, no best-sellers to rival Jonathan Schell’s “The Fate of the Earth” from the ‘80s. Even our idealists don’t want to examine the issue too closely. It’s almost like looking at the sun head-on for a long time. It’s just so beyond the pale that we simply hope the “experts” in their silos etc., and politicians with potential fingers on the buttons know what they’re doing! But we’ve seen big snafus in other governmental domains, not to mention in countries of the Third World, frequently more disorganized and capricious by far.

How does one accommodate to this strange menace begat by those great scientists of yore, who over the din of nay sayers, managed to do the unthinkable by splitting the atom? There’s really no good answer ...

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.

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