During the Cold War Americans expressed a high level of anxiety over the threat of nuclear attack and what might be the result on life as we know it. College students were reciting the mantra often credited to Bertrand Russell, “Better red than dead,” while others were building bomb shelters.
I find it perplexing that today, when the nuclear threat seems to be substantially greater, Americans seem oblivious to the prospect.
The assertion that the nuclear threat is greater is supported by several factors. China is very aggressively pursuing military buildup including nuclear armaments, Russia, likewise, is signaling that it is still a nuclear power to be reckoned with, there are indications that ISIS may be on the verge of taking over Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, while Iran from all indications may be close to developing its own nuclear weapon, seemingly being helped along by Pres. Obama. To make matters worse, our own military, including our nuclear capability, is becoming weaker, with some question as to whether some of our ancient nuclear weapons even work. A further reason for concern resides in the existence of electromagnetic pulse bombs, which are relatively easily made and not that difficult to smuggle into our country, especially as we consider our virtually nonexistent southern border. Some have estimated that one of these bombs of the right size and with the right placement could result in 90% of our population being dead two years after detonation. Adding to these problems is the seeming lack of substantive concern by anyone in Washington.
Prospects are high that an effective nuclear attack would lead to our being taken over by one of these forces, none of them noted for being nice guys. The outcome for us all would be unspeakably horrible.
So one would imagine that the primary topic on everyone’s lips from 60 Minutes and The Five to chatter at the local coffee shop would be the threats confronting us, what is being done about them (or not being done about them), and what the outcome might be.
But that is not the case, which leads to the question of why an overwhelming majority of Americans seem to care so little.
I believe the answer could be found in any number of factors. Let me list some. See which you think are producing our current lack of concern, or whether you believe it is one I missed.
- For most Americans the media worldview represents reality. The fact that the media are not conveying concern over nuclear threat results in the average American believing that a threat does not exist.
- A large segment of Americans live in the artificial world of entertainment that so thoroughly absorbs them that they pay little attention to the real world.
- A related factor is that Americans are so preoccupied with life in general—careers, homes, cars, kids, pets, vacations, shopping, along with the entertainment already mentioned—that they have no time or energy left to be concerned about global issues.
- A large segment of American society, perhaps in large measure because of poor education, displays no interest whatever in our political situation including what jeopardy we might be in.
- Many people believe that there is nothing they can do about such issues, and so there is no point in knowing or caring.
- Many people are convinced that our government will take care of whatever problems confront us, so we have no need to be concerned.
- Many Christians take comfort in the fact that the Lord is in control and therefore feel no concern. In fact, they view this perspective as an expression of biblical faith, and view those showing concern as lacking faith.
The answer may be found in all of the factors above and other issues not mentioned. I would be interested in what you think is causing this indifference. Whatever the cause of our disinterest, these threats are real, and with each passing day we find ourselves in a more precarious position. Maybe the more salient question is not why Americans don’t care, but what will be the price we pay for not caring.