I remember in 1980 when the inconceivable happened and Reagan was elected we all assumed that made WW3 inevitable so what was the point? Any career planning went out the window and we did whatever we wanted. It seemed utterly pointless to think more than a couple years ahead when there were 55,000 H bombs in 1980, most of which would be exploded in the first few minutes of WW3. Once war began, nothing could stop its progression. Mutually Assured Destruction it was called. It was so hair trigger that a flock of geese misread on the radar could set it all off. None of this was secret either, we all knew this. At some point every single day we thought about this. It was always in the back of our minds. A thunderclap would wake us up and we thought it was the end of the world. That’s a special kind of terror, to wake up in pitch dark thinking an H Bomb had just exploded and this, at long last, was it.
I dreamed about nuclear war a few years ago. We were in a car fleeing the mushroom clouds in the rear view mirror. Then more appeared off to the west of us, then east of us, finally in front of us. I woke up in the dark in a cold sweat.
We’ve forgotten this now. Repressed it. Which is a good thing. I’d hate to have other generations live with that fear. I don’t wish that on anybody.