My generation has probably had one of the best life spans of any generation of human beings since man’s creation. Think of the wonders of science, the medical breakthroughs, and the ease in which we live. I know I cannot speak for those unfortunate souls who live in third world countries, but I am specifically speaking of those of us who are blessed enough to live in the developed world.
In my lifetime, the two great wars were already over. The great plagues and depressions were gone. The industrial revolution was changing the way we worked, eliminating some jobs, but many of those were dangerous in nature. Travel is done with ease, and great distances became but hours away. For the most part, the world has been conquered, and we are at a time of prosperity and peace. Well, for the most part, anyway.
Our parents fared much worse, with ordinary school activities encompassing the familiar nuclear drill, which consisted of getting under your desk and putting your head between your legs. They left out the part about kissing your tail goodbye, though. As a child, I remember the huge gray air raid sirens that dotted Toronto, and I even got to hear one go off the morning that a squirrel gnawed through a wire. It was an ominous sound, but a familiar one, thanks to Hollywood.
With so much peace and prosperity, we have become not comfortable, but almost paranoid. We read daily about the emergence of superbugs, uncontrollable catastrophic virii, (that would be viruseses for those of you in college), as well as oil shortages, pending economic disaster, rogue nuclear states, etc. The list stretches to infinity leaving enough for even the well adjusted to worry about something.
While paranoia is a normal part of any society, especially one which has endured its own hardships, we must not forget that paranoia is sometimes a good thing. A nation only stays secure and free if it sometimes considers the far-fetched and unlikely scenarios. These do, however, reveal some disconcerting prospects.
There is much happening in the world today, and it is seemingly becoming more unsafe by the hour. Indeed, during the cold war, everybody for the most part knew where everybody else stood. Today, there are more variables than one can fathom, and it is though they change by the hour. This is never good, especially for one as loathed as the United States. While I for one am immensely thankful for our neighbors, there are many who do not share my adoration.
Since the end of the cold war much has changed. North Korea and Iran are on the verge of obtaining nuclear arms. As anyone with a little knowledge of international affairs knows, the Iranians and North Koreans are friendly with a lot of nations that we and our neighbors are not. These are not neutral states, but states intent on our destruction, as well as Israel’s. These are states whose citizens are molded into hate filled beings, and it is us they hate. There is now the spectre of international terrorism; states at war with us, funding factions and groups without being openly affiliated with them. This makes our new enemies much harder to eliminate. Their soldiers have no qualms about killing innocent people, as they hate all of us, not just those in a uniform.
Add to that the fact that a lot of huge economies are in trouble. The American economy is under extraordinary pressure right now, having to deal with Hurricane Katrina and the loss of productivity she visited upon their country, the damage to be cleared and rebuilt, the care of those she left homeless. There is the war on terrorism which is costing billions of dollars a month to wage, with no clear end in sight, and no global consensus to help it succeed, despite all of the wonderful rhetoric that the hapless United Nations spews forth.
There is an energy squeeze, with nations like China buying up as much raw material as it can. This buying frenzy can only go on so long until chronic shortages start to occur, and then nations look for ‘other means’ to secure what they need for their economies to survive. Couple all of these things with the glaring fact that American presence and clout is being slowly replaced with that of an Asian presence, and suddenly I don’t feel as safe as I used to. To have a country like the United States as a massive superpower always made me feel somewhat secure. To be honest, the thought of an Asian superpower, such as a China controlled one, scares the heck out of me. It truly does.
While the United States is a fundamentally peaceful nation intent on protecting itself through international participation, and usurpation when necessary, the Chinese have never been as content as those of us with a strong moral base. China has almost always been empirical, that is, it swallows up other nations, as with Tibet. China aims to expand, it always has. Right now, even as you read this, builds up its super navy. It also procures the supplies to arm itself to the teeth. Did I mention all the pacts it is signing and the naval bases it is building?
With the Chinese able to project their power further than ever, and with Iran on the verge of obtaining the plutonium solution, added to a weakened United States with a growing apathy in their general population and a socialist Canada, I suddenly wish I was still listening to the rhetoric between Reagan and Gorbachev.