By David Owens
Lessons from the Twilight Zone. In the shadow of recent news events, with the prospect of nuclear apocalypse both imaginary and real, the foolishness of governments that would pursue it, and the person willing to shout it come to mind. Fear drives people to say and do things that hurt themselves as much as their enemies. Lest we wish to live in the Twilight Zone, this fear needs to be addressed.
Americans created the Atomic Bomb in World War II, and the possibility of countries wiping their foes and themselves out of existence is more than science fiction. Fear of “The Bomb” reached a feverish point in the 1960s with both Americans and Russians worrying that the other had their trigger-happy fingers on a red button of annihilation. Thankfully, it did not happen and time has allowed us to believe that we have evolved and the threat of nuclear war is unthinkable.
Once in a while, other countries want to join the apocalypse club headed by America. (Officially China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States included in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and junior members not under the treaty, India, Pakistan, North Korea, NATO member sharing and possibly Israel.)
Unfortunately, the year of 2014 has been the year to revisit nuclear fear. Conflict in Ukraine has given hawkish citizens of Russia and the United States fearful claims that the other is ready to push a nuclear button.
Of course, this is just emotional talk, largely based on old fears. Time and cool heads eventually find the right path given time. It has always been the concern of reasonable men that an unstable and emotional government would acquire nuclear weapons and unleash an apocalyptic disaster.
On point, there is a movement in unstable and emotionally-charged Ukraine calling for the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Let’s hope these fear-driven thoughts recede and we can continue the efforts to reduce nuclear threats, not increase them.
We have been here before. Remember the 60s? Fear of the bomb, fear of other countries, fear of people we do not understand. It, too, will pass. We need to conquer our own fear, not other countries. The consequences of nuclear war is to wipe out all that is dear to us, all that we hope to be fighting for. The red button is a suicide button.
Back in 1961, the popular TV series “The Twilight Zone” took on the subject of apocalypse in the episode titled. “Two,” and it remains surprisingly relevant to current issues of war and country. The story is set some months after the apocalypse, in an unnamed city in an unnamed country. Two people from opposing sides, perhaps the last two people on Earth, played by Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles Bronson, have a wary meeting.
The countries are not named, but Bronson speaks English and Montgomery only speaks one telling word, прекрасный (prekrasny) the Russian word for lovely or beautiful. It is a thinly masked drama on the prospect of the Soviet Union and the United States destroying the world.
After several meetings filled with mistrust and threats, the two learn that there is no use continuing to fight. Eventually they realize it is better to trust and become friends. Why else did they fight? To find peace and happiness. If only we could skip the fighting and work on the happiness.
Though The Twilight Zone was not prone to political views, this episode does address the folly of our actions if we continue to escalate our fears and invoke destructive actions towards friend and foe. Regarding Ukraine, Russia and the United States, we have been reading a lot of mainstream news stories based on fear in the name of journalism. Add a lack of fact checking for foreign reports, it is a dangerous situation. Extreme views have received undue attention and relevancy in many reports. Having lived both in Russia and the United States, I have seen how propaganda is advanced to support government narratives. And our own interpretations of news to see what we wish to see, and not build a view based on facts. It is in play in various degrees in every country. In the end, President Lincoln was correct, you can’t fool all the people all the time. It is eye-opening to see how President Obama and our state department have a narrow narrative regrading Ukraine and Russia. Based on our difficulties in recent years in resolving differences with other countries, there is a real need to have more complete knowledge of recent history and events to have successful foreign policy.
To that end, to understand the many viewpoints on Russian-American issues including Ukraine and come to more informed conclusions, I recommend monitoring U.S., Russian and world press through the daily compilation by David Johnson of George Washington University. Known as Johnson’s Russia List, it is the most complete daily digest of topical news, JRL is a project of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. The easiest way to use it is to subscribe to their daily email, all the stories and links can be scanned in a few minutes. http://russialist.org/
Selective reporting is at play in mainstream media more than one would think, and shockingly, the mainstream U.S. press is often several months behind the world press in reporting stories on sensitive subjects like Ukraine.
The Twilight Zone episode “Two”
Original date September 15, 1961
Episode 1 , Season 3 (Episode 66)
Directed and Directed by Montgomery Pittman
Host: Rod Serling
Charles Bronson: Man
Elizabeth Montgomery: Woman
Let’s keep the apocalypse the stuff of fantasy! Just for Halloween and the Twilight Zone! Stay informed and put fear in its place!