They tested the triggers for nuclear bombs here.
‘We all have to be able to defend ourselves.’
Those few words or similar and that’s it – the common belief.
It’s applied to countries. Think about it and you realise we apply it to ourselves too.
Unquestioned, the assumption is that those words alone justify the costs, and justify all that does or doesn’t happen because of the costs.
Costs come in all shapes, sizes, forms – big, small, subtle, obvious, physical, mental, personal, social, financial, environmental and so on. They’re all costs. But they’re easy to blithely accept, to wholly ignore or, at best, to disregard.
And so it all carries on – as it always has, one way or another.
Costs are too often unquestioned, untested. Costs arise and costs get paid. These are costs of every different type: state-sized; human sized. These are costs born out of beliefs and lies, cons and fears. These are public costs and private costs, inflicted or self-imposed.
These are costs we imagine are valid because of some particular threat and its implications. But sooner or later our fears get replaced by new ones, with new potential consequences. Time grinds on. Threats go and come and the whole process starts seemingly afresh each time. There’s barely a look back.
Indeed, why look back? You might find a few costs that are justified but you’ll find many more that have been paid without good reason. Look back and it’s all too easy to be weighed down by the huge terrible sadness created by unnecessary costs.
Believing that it’s all down to excusable human nature is no relief. Despair might be the sensible conclusion but despair offers nothing worth having.
With those joyless paths to pick from, concluding that the only sensible way forward is to try and change human nature – my nature, other’s nature – seems reasonable.
After all, however small the changes I can make, something is better than nothing. Because if I don’t try then I’m an accomplice.
An accomplice to stagnation, to despair, to all the costs and the immense damage that comes in their wake. If I’m an accomplice then my conscience will be quick to deny me a sound night’s sleep.
Yes, we all need to defend ourselves.
And no, we don’t live in isolation. And no, we can’t be sure of where our vulnerabilities lie.
It’s true we can’t be sure we’ll never find ourselves under attack but history teaches we probably won’t be. It’s reasonable to trust we won’t be.
Have trust by default, but trust cautiously and verify. Wary optimism can be a positive assumption. It’s a basis for a better tomorrow.
(Click on any image for the larger-size gallery.)