Reading a post the other day by wordpresser Robert Nielsen – Why Did Communism Fail – http://robertnielsen21.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/why-did-communism-fail-3-incentives/ set me pondering in another direction. I started thinking about how my post WW2 childhood placed my generation smack dab in the middle of paranoia central. The threat of nuclear annihilation ever present, fresh off McCarthy era Communist witch hunts, Kennedy assassinations, and the bay of pigs – Cold War paranoia served us well – we were prepared; people weren’t considered wing nuts for stocking a fall out shelter or filling the pantry with canned food.
Once the Cold War evaporated, so too did our sense of impending doom. Happy as I was to show doom the door; my children spared sleepless nights worrying about a slow death from radiation poisoning – the fall of Communism took with it our ability to fathom a world where we might have to fend for ourselves.
We live in a vastly different world today. Not even 9/11 or North Korea pounding it’s chest, replaces the void left by a departing Cold War. The cold war era was practical if nothing else, people prepared as best they could. At the very least families talked about contingency plans Without the internet, cell phones, or bank cards, people had to plan ahead. Problems were approached differently, and solved with good old fashioned ingenuity.
I don’t loose sleep fretting about impending disaster. I write posts on solar flares, asteroids, and super volcanoes because it blows my mind that our planet supports life in the first place. Equally mind blowing is my conclusion that for all our progress and technology, I’d place my bet on the survival of cold war era society over today. The cold war is history, the product of a time vastly different, and impossible to compare with the modern world. That said, it was a time when technology or not, it was accepted, talked about, and prepared for. I miss the sensible middle ground of a time when people thought about having to take care of themselves.
By default the cold war era prepared us for an infinite number of calamities. With each passing decade since, our self preservation becomes more about packing a firearm than storing food, water, and a hand cranked flashlight. It’s entirely possible that I’m just getting old, yet boldly ponder a simpler time when nuclear annihilation was tackled with sensible preparations.