The Doomsday Clock: is it really necessary now?

Recently, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists-the keepers of the ‘Doomsday Clock’-moved the clock back one minute to six minutes to midnight.  After reading a few scattered stories about the decision, it occurred to me that many of those people who were simply repeating what they had seen elsewhere, really understood the meaning of the clock and the fact that the minute hand went back one minute.  It also dawned on me that the clock is no longer necessary.  If people have forgotten or not even known the meaning, then the point is lost.

Young people today do not know the fear that most of us lived through during the cold war.  The notion that with the ‘flick of a switch’, the world could be reduced to a burnt out cinder is foreign today.  That point is lost on the majority of people alive who are under thirty years old.  That happens to be the age range of the bloggers, reporters and such who are regurgitating things.  While I do alot of that myself, I am, alas, much older than thirty.  I do remember the heddy days when President Reagan was saying ‘we bomb in three minutes’ and I remember Nixon going off to China. 

The symbology of the clock hit hard then.  The BAS got its point across in stunning fashion.  The images of the clock, its hour hand on 12, the minute hand dangerously close to midnight and the thought that when it hit midnight, it was game over…well, that’s pretty frightening.

Forward the calendar about twenty years to today and, instead of fear, you see this:

“The Doomsday Clock, which I’d like to think looks a little more official than that piece of shit in the picture, has been set back a minute, to 6-minutes till midnight. I suspect it’s some sort of governmental diversion.” – Geekologie

I’m not sure what is more chilling…this person’s derision of the idea or the notion that it is a diversion.  Worse, still, are the comments on the post.  I’m betting that no one over 25 commented there.  To these people, the meaning is totally gone.  In fact, most of them were UPSET that there wasn’t a ‘real’ clock.  This is our future, folks.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love our youth.  They are, however, a bit on the loose and misguided side.  And ignorant.  I don’t mean that negatively, either.  By ignorant, I mean that they have no notion of what it was like when the arms race was spiraling out of control.  They, more than likely, don’t even remember the United State’s primary ‘foe’:  the Soviet Union.  The USSR no longer exists and, to me, that is quite stunning in and of itself.  To our young, however, it is but a footnote that they probably just skipped over.

So, again, is the clock even necessary?  If its meaning is lost, why bother?  Honestly, I had totally forgotten about it until very recently when I saw a History Channel special on the clock.  I’m thinking the BAS needs something a bit more dramatic to use as its symbol.  Something the youth can understand.  Perhaps a video game ‘lives left’ count.  Hey, the clock worked for my generation, maybe the lives left will work for the next generation.

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