Our grandson, Isaac, at the age of 5 is still in that age of wonder. The world is still very new to him. While imbued with video games and other nonsense of the 21st century the depth of his brown eyes takes in the world that is grace, beauty and song. A safe place his world is, but how safe for how long?
"And, I looked and behold a pale horse and the name that sat on him was Death. Hell followed him with power to kill with sword, hunger and the beasts of the earth."
Not since 1942 has so much of the world been at war. The headliners like Afghanistan, Iraq and most recently Libya garner the publics’ eyes. But the wars of attrition in Darfur, The Ivory Coast and Burma are killing hundreds of thousands every year for the most desperate of reasons: hunger, poverty, despair and the power to keep things the way they are.
"Then the angel sounded the trumpet and a star fell from Heaven unto the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit and the sun and the air were scorched and darkened by the smoke from the abyss."
The book of Revelations. The Christian Bible’s great mystery. Is it ancient mythology wrapped in primitive symbols or some woe-unto-you prophecy that is unraveling right before us?
Right now 8 nations boast membership in the nuclear weapons club with two more – Israel and South Africa – keeping their doomsday capabilities seemingly under wraps.
In the old days when only the US, Britain, France, China and the USSR held the keys to Armageddon there was a balance to the insanity. You shoot one of yours at us and we’ll shoot all of ours back at you. For a generation the doctrine known as MAD, mutually assured destruction, kept the big peace with little peaces allowed to break up in insane actions in places like Korea and Vietnam.
Today however unsettled relationships between nuclear neighbors like Pakistan and India could annihilate millions upon millions of people in a matter of minutes. Couple this uncertainty with America’s adventurism in the 21st century and you have a dangerous doomsday mix that appears to be a long fuse that has already been lit.
There are probably 150 million Isaacs in this world. Some, like him, are comfortable and prepared to enjoy the freedom this nation offers. But too many languish in the squalid horror that breeds contempt for the free world. No need to wonder what breeds terrorism and hatred. A half century from now what will we leave them? Could we ever take the collective madness that is military spending on this sorry planet and convert it to the peaceful pursuit of comfort and freedom for all people? Or someday will we take this amazing planet of ours; it’s thousands of years of progress and creativity and turn it into lifeless ash and rubble?
Albert Paschall is Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, a non-profit educational foundation with offices in Harrisburg and King Of Prussia. Dianne Ryan Paschall is the former publisher of the Main Line Times. [email protected]