So much anger and hatred going
around this election season. The doomsayers offer it as unprecedented evidence
that America is falling apart into opposing camps. But those of us who entered
manhood in the 70's can speak to a greater division then, and somehow we came
That great struggle between the
left and the right, communism and capitalism, anti-Vietnam War and patriotism
-- it all came to a head for me in the struggle between pacifism and the
military-industrial complex, with me throwing in with the latter.
All those conflicted years of
discussing right and wrong with my hippie friends came to a retroactive
discernment along an Arizona highway with a sign for the Titan Missile Museum.
Not on many tourist junkets, I was nonetheless intrigued by the idea of laying
hands on an intercontinental ballistic missile, the apex product of the
The sobering tour through the
deactivated missile silo and its command center took an hour, but I found
myself wandering the grounds much longer. The equations I had written as an
engineer had consolidated into monstrous cold steel, a monument to so much
If ever I prayed my thanks to God,
it was that he saw fit to pass this dreadful cup. I wondered what I would be
seeing rambling around America had that button been pressed, nothing of course
since I probably would have joined the millions with lives cut
The moral dilemma sallied back and
forth in my head, such great evil accomplishing such great good, the
cancellation of World War III.
Have us oldsters forgotten the
grammar school drills of hiding under our desks because that would save us?
Looking over at my comrade in arms, she had held her coloring book over her
pigtails for extra protection. Curled in frightened little balls, we sometimes
snuck a peek at the windows to see if the sky was aflame.
So close to the reality of it all
in that silo, that the eve of destruction had been so near, the only illogical
piece was that a policy aptly named MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) had
actually benefited the human race.
As horrible as 9-11 was, we seem to
have forgotten how close we were to losing every building in Manhattan -- and
so much more. We have no national holiday, not even an annual moment of
silence, to celebrate this triumph of compassion.