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Un alt început

Un alt început

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eotw Sfârșitul lumii vine pentru fiecare la timpul lui. Sfârșitul lumii mele e neprogramat. Poate va veni în zece, douăzeci, cinzeci sau o sută de ani. Poate chiar azi, dacă închid ochii și-mi iau mâinile de pe volan.

Dar sfârșitul lumii fiecăruia nu ne interesează. Dimpotrivă, ne petrecem o bună parte din viață de parcă am fi nemuritori. Ne pierdem timpul în felii, în zile, luni și ani. Amânăm. Așteptăm. Lăsăm pe mai târziu, de parcă acel târziu ne-ar fi garantat prin literă de lege. Sfârșitul nostru nu ne interesează decât cel mult episodic, un subiect nedorit și neinvitat în arena preocupărilor noastre.

De ce atunci această obsesie a sfârșitului lumii? De ce acest voyeurism cataclismic, această fascinație a finalității, reflectată din paginile Bibliei până în superproducțiile holywoodiene cu monștri, alieni, supernove, explozii solare, zombie sau viruși superletali? Anihilarea reciprocă printr-o iarnă nucleară, distrugerea stratului de ozon, inundații catastrofale datorate încălzirii globale – fiecare dintre ele un scenariu escatologic, și în consecință un captatio benevolentiae garantat pentru editorii de știri de pretutindeni. Asteroizi, gripă aviară, furtuni solare. “Fear sells”, spun americanii; frica se vinde, și nu există o frică mai mare decât cea a punctului final, indiferent cât de improbabil ar fi el.

Sau ne e așa de frică de uitare încât ideea că după noi se trage cortina este infinit mai preferabilă unui spectacol perpetuu în care nu putem fi nici măcar spectatori?

We went and fought in World War III

We went and fought in World War III

soldierBack in the days of  the Cold War, we though the third great world confrontation was months, if not days ahead. We had a visceral fear of the Nuclear Holocaust, with all that entailed – the millions of deaths, the fallout, the radiation poisoning, the endless nuclear winter… A whole generation grew up taught to think in terms of us and them, fed on fear and propaganda, but mostly fear. We had the Berlin crisis and the Cuban missile crisis. We had the standoffs, the nuclear tests, the war games and the wars-by-proxy. We even had Comrade Krushchev telling the West quite literally “we will bury you”. The year was 1956. People were listening to Elvis and building fallout shelters in the backyard.

But the years went by, and crisis after crisis was averted by means of diplomacy and concessions on either side. Leaders came and went, but the doctrine remained the same. Arm yourself more than the other guy. Talk tough. Make a show of strength. DO NOT USE IT. It kept on going for 40+ years, right until the Berlin wall collapsed, taking with it an ideology and a way of life that dominated the XXth century. There were, of course, several occasions where war was narrowly averted – for instance this was one of them. But the thing is, it didn’t happen, and that is probably why today we are alive and well and able to click our way around the Internet, instead of scavenging for tins in the ruins of the Western civilization.

What I belatedly came to realise is that World War III did actually happen. In the military High Commands of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, on the boards – and later the computer screens – of intelligence analysts, in the nightmares of world leaders, World War III happened over and over again. And no matter where it played, no matter how it started, it always ended the same way. Nobody won.

That is why, in this nuclear age, the era of the great war has passed. Never again will we see tens of millions of soldiers marching across the world to re-enact the clash of the Titans. The political leadership of any faction, group or country may still be use the Cold War rhetoric – indeed, North Korea still does it to this day – but they will always stop short of action. That is why I am not concerned, for instance, about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Oh, they might huff and puff about the great Iranian nation, but the most a nuclear Iran can hope to get out of an alleged military nuclear program is a stronger position at the bargaining table.

This does not mean we saw the end of wars. There will still be skirmishes, thawing conflicts, African civil wars, nationalist guerrillas, jihadist terrorists and Somali pirates, and many more. Plenty of opportunities to field test the new generation of weapons and to let the new recruits cut their teeth on a real theatre of confrontation. There won’t be peace in my lifetime, no matter how hard we may wish for it.

Still, one can always hope.