Mathew Mackie

Why We Should Stop Worrying and Not Fear the Bomb

Hawaii’s false alarm resurfaced an old fear we repressed. While the fear of the bomb is nothing new, it can easily be defused with plain logic.


As old mate once said, the only thing left to fear, is fear itself. However, if yesterday’s headlines taught us anything, we should fear utter nuclear decimation more. Doomsday was (again) upon us. First, Kim was going to bomb Guam, and now he’s doing Pearl Harbor remakes? The horror. Brilliantly, those in the glide path decided to succumb to their impulses, with one last collective awkward half-stung tumble with the spouse, enabled by the best of their liquor cabinets. People were scared, they saw the possibilities of the end, and I agree. Sort of. The image of a barren landscape razed by the atomized hand of man is harrowing. It’s been drummed into us through movies, books, and the auspices of those who raised you.



Alas, it was a false alarm, as genitals, tumblers, and lurid sentences were packed back into the recesses of our mental cupboard. We survived. But, all around the world, despite the fact that aforesaid attack didn’t exist, gazes were cranked skywards, as fingernail met mouth, as we wondered what if?

The truth is that “what if” is the thousand megaton question, and one that allows the nuclear power of the bomb to spread, a ticking dagger forever dangling above our head. It’s just a matter of when. It’s the Black Mamba of our flimsy mortality. Yes, it could kill us in an instant and that would be awful, so we solely focus on the toxicity of its venom, ignoring the statistics of the majority who have not tasted the bite. We focus on the minority, because they proved that it could happen. Fear is the key. Generations fear the bomb and always will, as people like my nan won’t be convinced otherwise that Kim and Donald won’t kill us all, despite a complete lack of a reason why they would.

Those two freely speak of the size of their nuclear buttons, so the suspicion is that they’d press it, because they can, because, presumably, they want to blow up the planet. Come on, now. The fifty-odd years of living through the Cold War somehow blinds us to the fact that the next bomb never came and the last one was dropped in 1945, which came as an unfortunate full stop at the end of a global bloodletting that claimed 60 million people. For some reason I don’t understand, we all believe those who utter nuclear threats, taking it as absolute truth, even if we know everything else they tell us is a lie. Nikita Khrushchev, Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, and Richard Nixon are part of this club. They threatened it, so, why would they not mean it, right? Why else would you say it?


But the reality of the unreal is something else entirely. A year before this one, I called Darwin, Australia, home, which turned out to be an ironic name, as Kim Jong-un announced that his nuclear feet could raze that town, as the media predicted that the shoe would certainly soon drop.

It was ironic, because Darwinism didn’t enter into it. Your standard Territorian is far too apathetic or drunk to care. They’ve got the heat to contend with. The thing they fear are their quarterly power bills. Side note, Kim, Darwin is the most unsuitable place to target. The two grandest moments of the Darwin experience was the two times it was almost destroyed. First by the Japanese, and then by a cyclone on Christmas Day. It is a place that is driven by destruction. As for the outsider touring the territory, I followed the example set by the locals, a collective shrug. The way my neighbor put it, shirtless, his gut obscuring the flowerbed he was rebelliously watering beyond the cutoff time with his hose, so much in fact, that he had to look sideways around his girth to ensure that he wasn’t drowning his posies. Trevor, we’ll call him, boiled nuclear annihilation down to two schools of thought: either a) it won’t happen, because there’s no reason for it to happen or b) if it did, and a Korean ICBM rung his doorbell, it wouldn’t matter. Trevor waved a dry cracked remnant of a long departed posy at me before crumpling it in his hand.

So, over the next couple of days, when we’re battered by a thousand articles that explain how the worst of our fears will come to pass and how we’re closer to nuclear annihilation as we ever have been before, think of Trevor’s garden and the caustic smell of blood and bone that permeated the air. While it might smell like absolute death, it’s exactly that, just the smell. While we’ll probably never see that one day that hyperbole promised us, we can control how much the fear of that frightens us.



Related posts