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National Commentary

On The Brink?

Among other non-academic activities in our contemporary society, all public school children are introduced to vital, emergency life saving drills. Fire drills, lock-down drills, shelter-in-place drills and tornado drills are all common to our students and welcomed by parents and concerned family members.

If asked, most students can easily explain the purpose and intricacies of assuming the “Duck and Tuck” position. First one locates a position away from glass and loose debris that can be dangerously propelled by high winds. Next, facing a wall or other solid, protective edifice, one assumes a vertical fetal position with his/her head lowered as far as possible between his/her knees. The “Duck and Tuck” position is employed in every public school tornado drill.

Although now used almost exclusively for tornadoes, I’m old enough to remember when the primary purpose of the “Duck and Tuck” was as a drill for students to prepare for nuclear attack. Then, the world had fresh recollections of the destruction and devastation of such attacks.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not just historic events. I have been both places and memory of the horrors are still real. I can appreciate the serious and solemn approach world leaders, specifically American leaders, took in navigating through world events with the goal of maintaining peace. Even Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, principle physicist in developing the atomic bomb, understood the monster he unleashed upon humanity. With clarity of thought he stated, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

I shudder to think that this depiction could have an element of truth, yet I believe that in reality our fate would be far worse.

Truth could be stranger than fiction. Specifically, through its development and threat of deployment of nuclear weapons, North Korea holds South Korea, Japan, China, and, possibly, parts of the United States hostage to the fear of nuclear holocaust. A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Battle Group now sails, more or less, toward the Sea of Japan on course to achieve what only God knows.

Conflicts in mid-eastern Asia serve as a potential tipping-point for widening conventional warfare that may force us to a combative point-of-no-return. Terrorists turn the hatred and xenophobia that is running rampant in the United States into recruitment propaganda for an internal and external assault upon our social stability.

As I write this, a megalomaniacal US President has taken great enjoyment in upsetting any logical order in international relations. He, seemingly, derives genuine pleasure in offending long-standing allies and courting the allegiance and camaraderie of nations that we have long numbered among our historic adversaries. We now reject the values that have made our nation great and embrace the hatred and divisiveness that weaken us spiritually and morally.

Years ago, Five-Star General Omar Bradley predicted our current circumstance. He said, “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.”

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The threat to our species is critical. Our only choice is to heed the call for active political involvement. Through our engagement we must demand that our current impractical and unrealistic leadership plot a more reasoned course to the future.

Dr. E. Faye Williams is National President of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. (202) 678-6788.

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