I remember as a child in elementary school being subjected to black and white film reels instructing us on the appropriate action to take should the catastrophic event of a nuclear warhead strike occur. The movie was complete with a shot of a huge mushroom cloud, military personnel with binoculars, and animations of what the shock wave and radiant heat would do to an ordinary looking house. I may have some of the memories mixed up but I’m not too far off the mark. It seems the makers of this macabre cinema felt that children should leap underneath their desks and cover up their heads in a cowering embryonic crouch. The intent of this film was to reduce the anxiety we might be feeling living under threat of annihilation. Well, speaking only for myself (although I suspect my classmates were of a similar mind) this sort of ‘schooling’ did nothing to ease my anxiety. In fact, I was pretty innocent as most 7 or 8 year olds are, but even at that tender age I knew without a doubt that should something like that happen the only thing to be accomplished by jumping under my desk is that I would be vapourized in a crouching position. Looking back now it’s incredible that this kind of fearmongering was not only tolerated, but encouraged and supported by the educational institution of the day. I am not being critical of the system though, that was the general mood of the times…and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse was seemingly real…as it still is.
I did not notice on any of the news feeds from Hawaii recently if anyone was crouching on the ground in terror…apparently that defense is not prescribed anymore!