“Never in our lifetime have we been under such a threat of nuclear war.” I laughed as I listened to a talk radio show and heard this caller. As he continued to say this phrase over and over throughout his short time on the phone, I kept waiting for the host to correct him. Nope. I think the host was probably having the same thought as me, “How young are you?”
I’m starting to feel old. Not in the run-down moving slowly way, though I have that too. I’m feeling old because as I listen to young people I want to say, “Oh you can’t possibly think that,” way too often.
Lately, feeling old has hit me with the war in Ukraine. I am not going to be political here. Hopefully, we can all agree what is happening in the Ukraine is awful. If you don’t agree with that, then I guess I am being political. You can move on. If you do agree, you are either saying things like, “I can’t believe we are back to this,” or “I’ve never seen this before.” The second phrase is what makes me feel old.
I grew up in the 70's and 80’s with the red phone. I grew up with the threat that the USSR might bomb us at any moment. I’m a Gen Xer. You know, the forgotten generation. We didn’t have bomb drills like my parents because the bombs had advanced to where we knew we would be evaporated if one hit close enough. No reason to hide under our desks. We did have tornado and hurricane drills where we hid under desks or in hallways, but not bomb drills. The generation before us knew the threat of atomic war. Our generation knew the threat of an even more advanced nuclear war. Newer generations are now starting to feel it, and somehow, they think it is new.
This is not an indictment of the educational system. They’ve been taught about the Cold War. They just didn’t live it. I remember when I realized the Cold War was history. I’m a teacher, and a student asked me one day, “We are studying the Cold War. What was it like for you?” I cocked my head and said, “You’re studying it? Like it’s over?” Honestly, I never thought about it as being over. Yes, The Wall fell in 1989. Yes the USSR came apart in 1991, but somehow, I don’t think I ever breathed a sigh of relief. This was about 2000, and the students were studying the cold war as history.
I am happy that young people did not grow up with the fear of nuclear war. However, in some…