“I’d face ‘em off,” his eyes were bright and beady. “Show ‘em we’ve also got the bloody bombs ready.”
“But the Russians feel threatened, NATO has crept up to their borders, it’s like 1962 all over again.”
“And back then we faced ‘em off. Do it again, I say.”
I looked at this high ranking ex-military man and recalled how the military on both sides of the CubanMissile Crisis were prepared to press the button. These guys are trained from the get-go to fight to the end. Their mindset would have work when we had spears and swords, but in the modern world it is madness incarnate.
There can be no other time in history when the fragility of life was so obvious. Not only is there the disastrous enormity of Climate Change, there’s the upsetting news that many of our current solutions require rare metals whose extraction is so destructive. And we wake to Russian rockets blasting lives apart across Ukraine, we then hear that North Korea is testing its nuclear capability, and we know that China is armed and ready to fight…..
You put your head in your hands. All it takes is a single human error and when tensions are so high, mistakes happen. In 1962 there were several near misses, the world as we know it was almost wiped out. It was why people lived in fear and organisations such as CND became so popular. Today’s proliferation of nuclear bombs is far greater, the danger of error is far higher, the tensions are far worse due to the emotional nature of current and potential confrontations, of which there are many.
I look out the window and admire the sun sparkling off the green hedges, the rounded hills and how it is brightening a perfectly blue sky. Yet I struggle to feel positive. I must. It is my duty to myself and to my long suffering wife who at 9.50am is still asleep, poor thing, so stressed from all the worry my health has recently given her. It is also my duty to those around us, to the natural world and to the pulse of life that I face the negatives, understand them, and work out what creative actions, both mental and physical, little old me can take.
Faced with all of this, we each feel helpless. The multiple issues threatening us and our Planet are way beyond our control. Other than spread a plea for calm, for compromise, for a meeting half way, for a rational debate about the dangers, we must try to live each day as best we can, ensuring we slip in to productive thinking and that our actions are not counter-productive. Yup, a huge shift in focus from the vast to the minute, but our individual attitude, our poise, helps not only us, but those with whom we interact. And it spreads; as little as 25% of a population can swing opinion.
I take a slow deep breath, appreciating the oxygen doing me good; I hold it in, admiring the extraordinary nature of my astounding body and brain; I slowly let it out, relaxing, smiling at my good fortune, however small that may be. This very simple exercise helped me cope during my worst hours. If undertaken with complete, relaxed attention, it shifts you from the madness of thought’s whirlwinds to the calm stability of perception. When we relax, the body-brain assumes there is no threat and it rewards the mind with a sense of equanimity. That then ensures we can chose which thinking patterns are most productive for our current situation, be we facing death, or talking to an ex-nuclear Commander.