Old Childhood Fears

Yesterday I was listening to a radio report about the conflict between Russia and Georgia. A Russian who was being interviewed said something about how the United States was pushing for World War III by taking sides with Georgia. In that split second, I connected with my inner child and was transported back to the mid-70s.

It was after the duck and cover age, but still in the time of the Cold War when as children we shuddered at the thought of nuclear bombs, imagining if we'd even hear them before they hit. Our parents had been only barely able to shelter us from the shock of graphic footage from the battlefields of Vietnam. We heard much about war - World Wars and brutal wars-that-can't-be-won. We'd talk about how we were in the top ten areas targeted by Soviet nuclear missiles because we were close to a big city or because we were a major seat of automobile manufacturing. We knew that one missile meant inevitable annihilation, the infamous "nuclear holocaust." We discussed the red phone and the button. There was an almost tangible air of fear and anxiety.

When I came out of my momentary trip to those days, I was amused by how the words "World War Three" could create such a rich sensory experience in my mind. I felt like a child - smaller, less powerful. I could smell the air in my elementary school, could see the familiar faces of my friends, could hear the sounds of the churning factory blocks from my home and adjacent to my school's playground.

I've had two wonderings since that experience yesterday: 1) I wonder if that fear of nuclear war created the rate of anxiety I see today in adults near my age; and 2) I wonder what is the "nuclear holocaust" for the children of today. What anxiety will test their need for safety and security?