After The Bomb

The most tragic scenario

Sceanrio: A rogue nation recently struck New York with a nuclear missile killing over 8M of her citizens. You are the President of the United States. What is the speech you will deliver to your nation's citizens, your attackers and the rest of the world?

People of the world.

We have been betrayed by the most heinous act the worst government has ever perpetrated upon humanity. All of us. Everywhere. There was once a nation they led, and that nation is no more. Its government has gone beyond reason into psychopathic madness. It has orphaned its citizens in an act of murder suicide. We, all of us, will be taking the place of that government.

There is penance to be done, and the penitent will be forgiven. They will be brought to the graveyard that New York is now and they will suffer as we all will to build the appropriate memorial over what will become sacred ground for thousands of years to come.

Beginning tomorrow, the US will send ships, airplane, soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and volunteers to take control. As we join with our allies around the world we will bring our orphaned brothers and sisters to America so they may, side by side with our Army Corps of Engineers but under strict supervision begin their penance by establishing the necessary quarantine around the once great city of New York.

We will resist the temptation for revenge. Those who cannot abide the requirement of civility will be punished under martial law. Those Americans who volunteer can be processed to go to the new protectorate. It can be their new home.

Let there be no mistake. As has been customary from our shared ancient history, we will be engaged in conquest. This rogue nation will be placed under the dominion of the United States of America and its Constitutional laws. It will be the most peaceful conquest in history which is the appropriate response to the most bloody sneak attack in history. I say to you of the betrayers, your power is forfeit. Your law is forfeit. Your people are now our people. You have stung us directly on the face and we will wear the scar, but we will also absorb the poison and survive it. The body of humanity will not falter. Your kingdom is no more.

We will build a protectorate in what was once a rogue nation and build a new world city in it. We will see the rebirth of hope. We will not watch the revenge of war. You will stand in our place and we will stand in yours. Eventually, we will all stand together.

Now begins our sorrow and mourning. With heavy hearts, we who have born witness to this immense tragedy tremble with the terrible knowledge of what we in our rage and madness are capable of as humans. With every bowed head, staring at the blood soaked ground, we know what destruction and havoc has been loosed upon the world. Yet with every step, moving towards clarity, we must raise our eyes, raise our spirits, raise new buildings and new dreams. We cannot raise the dead. We are resolved to honor them. We are obligated to breathe in their spirits and walk forward carrying all of our orphans from this moment forward.

Now breathe.

Hold your breath.

I smell the ashes from here.

We have been burned alive.

Yet. We are alive.

So we must move.

We have so much work to be done. So many burdens to bear. So many brothers to bury. So many sisters to save. We are humanity in our own hands. Our economies will be shocked. Our routines disrupted, our lives turned around. We must all ask what must be done. How can we help. This is how we will find new meaning and new purpose in our lives. Some of us will be prepared to carry out the tasks before us. Some of us will be unable to bear the pain. All of us will need help. We all need to move. We cannot be shocked into stillness by the nightmares of death that will haunt us. We must remember that we are living, and that while we have breath and blood in us, there is something in this world we can do to move even at the pace of crawling. If that’s what it takes then we will crawl together. Until we stand again as men and women of a new destiny.

The heinous act is behind us. Let the healing begin. Let’s move.


I had a choice in the 8th grade. I could read Fail Safe or I could read Silent Spring. I reasoned then as I reason now, that it will be relatively easy for us to clean up after ourselves. Air and water pollution is something nobody wants. It would not be so easy to reconcile ourselves with the nuclear enemies of the United States. Conflict is something far too many want. So I read about nuclear holocaust. I became a plane spotter. I lived the Cold War nightmare. Even up to the mid 80s after Prince wrote Ronnie Talk To Russia the shivers still often came. I reflect on the kinds of fear were in our music and art. From World Destruction to Synchronicity II we held a kind of fatalist pessimism about the future. That was when the new century still seemed far away.

Now we are in the new century and we seem to have forgotten all those artistic means of unleavened bread. We have a young generation who don’t know that 80 million people died in WW2. The news tells us that nearly 2/3 of young adults in America are unaware of the nature or existence of the Shoah. I’m never sure what to make of this kind blithe ignorance and indifference, because I know that people will always have the capacity to suffer, and that suffering always forces our attention towards reality. Once I wrote:

War is Hell. Hell is well understood. Peacetime sucks. 

For the same reason that the noose focuses the mind, liberty allows for discovery of novelty in every sphere. I am reflecting for a moment on my discovery several years ago of the benefit of war. To reiterate, the great value of war is that it becomes the excuse for everything, and it simplifies and accentuates the meaning of life. War is in every sense, reductive. 

Peacetime sucks because in peacetime, flirtations with the truth are sufficient. Nobody quite cares if you miscalculate because in general, nobody is going to lose an arm or a leg about it. Consequently, every mistruth becomes pretty much equal to every other mistruth, and the slippery slope ends up going down certainly. But not down to Hell. Because we are at peace with ourselves, our misdeeds, our mistruths and well isn't there delightful discovery in all that novelty? Yes there is. Peacetime breeds the corruptions of injustice, especially a peacetime with no death penalty.

Make no mistake. Peace is always preferable to war. Only during peacetime, with its attendant modes of discovery can we find value in the myriad permutations of human character and endeavor. Nobody loves humanity and all the diversions of society so much as during peacetime. In war, all we want is for war to end, by any means necessary - which generally means more war. In wartime, anything and everything goes to win, and blood debts give rise to greater commitments until the very end of human ability is tried. It exhausts the very soul. War makes zombies of humans, we become single-minded rabbits, astounded in our abject terror. Every face of every child reminds us that we are not our true selves in war, that we are reduced to following the orders of survival. And so we crave peace.

As vicious and as mendacious and as helpless as we have felt in the madness that has been the year 2020, we have not been at war. I thought I might take a moment from the kvetching. This week I have stayed up to watch some war movies, only two so far {A Bridge Too Far, Beasts of No Nation} to remind me of the difference between inconvenience, pain, suffering and abject deprivation.

Let’s move.