Revisiting My Childhood Fears of a Nuclear Attack

I know I’m stepping out on a limb by touching this subject, but I was reminded of my childhood fear of nuclear war by an article I read a couple weeks ago published in the New York Times, stating that the federal government had revised its guidelines for what to do if there were ever a nuclear attack on an American city. The gist of the guidelines being that people should “shelter in place”, and not to evacuate the cities. This of course set me on an Internet search, where I found the old duck-and-cover commercials, to the discovery of Conelrad, which is basically the precursor to the Emergency Broadcast System, which is now the Emergency Alert System. Though how you “control” electromagnetic radiation, I’d like to know lol. Anyway, I brought this subject up, to me in passing really, to a friend I was talking to on Skype, to which she asked in what seemed to me a rather scoffing and condescending tone, “Are you afraid of a nuclear attack”? Admittedly, I used to be. When I was a kid. But then again, I also remember being afraid of tornadoes and earthquakes and things like that. But nuclear war and its aftermath was something that really frightened me. There was just something about potentially being here one minute, and then possibly vaporized the next and just not existing in physical form anymore, or surviving but then being made ill and/or dying by a substance you can’t see, touch, taste, or smell, that I just found, well, more horrifying than anything else, yet, for lack of a better word that I can think of at the moment, fascinating at the same time. Now as an adult “fear” wouldn’t describe how I feel now. “Wanting to be prepared as best I can” would be a more apt description. And I suppose that if something like an attack were to become eminent, I’d do my best to prepare accordingly. But the kind of fear and horror I felt as a child just, of course and obviously, doesn’t exist for me now. I remember people saying that if we ever were attacked by a nuclear weapon, they wanted to be right under the bomb or missile. I didn’t however. I wanted to hide away in a safe bunker somewhere, with plenty of food and water, only coming out once it was safe.

As I got older, I forgot about my fears and the nightmares I used to have. I forgot about how the movie Testament and later The Day After scared me so bad, but how I was kinda afraid to say how scared I was. I was afraid of being laughed at, and I guess I still am, because after the scoffing question from my friend, “are you afraid of a nuclear attack?” and the further scoffing “I think you are” when I said that I really wasn’t, just caused me to shut down and to change the subject as quickly as I could. Because when I brought up the subject, I wasn’t afraid at all, but curious as to why the government would come out with these guidelines now, if there supposedly was no threat. but supposedly, according to my friend, we supposedly have had the discussion of nuclear war many times. Have we? I sure don’t remember. Except for a discussion of “One Second After” which is a fictional depiction of a possible EMP attack on the US, and while a nuclear weapon, detonated high in the atmosphere would be used to carry out such an attack, it’s not the same as a full-fledged nuclear attack, and I for one put EMP attacks in a different category than, say, a standard nuclear attack in an American, or other, city. And in any case, I remember when reading “One Second After” kinda kicking myself because I wasn’t sure if I should put together a survival kit, which really I should do anyway because I live in a hurricane prone area, or whether I should kick myself for being paranoid.

At any rate, as with so many other things in my life, if discussing certain things is oging to makemelook like an unstable idiot, or something else less desirable,I just won’t discuss it. However, at least I’m not posting mock-ups of fake EAS nuclear attack warnings, or makeYouTube videos of the fallout shelter I have constructed in my backyard, which by the way I myself don’t have. My point being that it could be worse. I’m really not as cooky as I could be. And anyone who grew up, say, between the ’50s and the ’80s will tell you of the very real fear of a nuclear attack. Although by the time I came of school age, the era of duck-and-cover drills was long gone. I only remember my first introduction to the horrors of nuclear war coming in the form of the movie Testament and in that same summerwatching TV documentaries on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was ten. And scared, and wanting to say how scared I was, but getting the feeling that I’d be laughed at and criticized and ridiculed if I voiced that fear. So I just didn’t. Well, I’m sure I did at some point to people I trusted, and maybe that’s what my friend, whose known me since I was six, remembers.

Now as a Muslim, I sometimes find myself trying to put my childhood fears into somekind of islamic/Muslim perspective. if I fear, say, a nuclear detonation, or if reading of accounts of nuclear attack give me nightmares, am i somehow fearing man and his creation more than God? Or should I just make dua that Allah never allows such a thing to happen?

I don’t think it’s Death so much that I have an issue with. We are all going to die at some point, but it’s the instantaneousness of it, the being here one minute and gone the next. Or, if talking about say an asteroid or tornado or something like that, the violence of it. So maybe it’s a violent death that scares me. Because I remember after my house fire, one of the things that really left me in shock was the fact that if I didn’t get out of the house when I did, that perhaps I’d not have gotten out? I can only imagine being trapped in a house full of smoke and fire, desperately trying to get out but not being able to. AndI find that horrifying. Or maybe it’s the fear of something sneaking up on me without me being able to see it coming and thus to be able to prepare for it? Or maybe it’s, as a blind person, not being able to feel as prepared and in control as perhaps I think I might feel and be if I were sighted.

Anyway, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I sit in my house and live inmortal fear of something hitting my house and blowing me to bits, whether it’s a nuclear warhead, asteroid, tornado, hurricane, bolt of lightning, or something like that. I’m just saying, well, what am I saying? I’m not really sure exactly. Just that I’m not crazy, I guess, yeah, maybe that’s what I’m saying. Although that’s not it either because there are survivalists who do indeed prepare for say, an asteroid or a nuclear attack with the same seriousness that many of us might prepare for a hurricane, tornado or house fire. I’m just not one of those people. Even if I do express my childhood fears of such an attack, and even if I also express my curiosity as to why the government would suddenly start quietly discussing how to prepare for a nuclear attack with local emergency management personnel while at the same time saying there’s not an eminent threat. And even if I’m horrified at the awful things that any weapon of mass destruction can do to people.

My father used to say that when it’s your time to go,there’s nothing you can do about it. I just pray/make dua that when it’s my time, it’s quiet and peaceful. and I’m not terrified.

I know I’m stepping out on a limb by touching this subject, but I was reminded of my childhood fear of nuclear war by an article I read a couple weeks ago published in the New York Times, stating that the federal government had revised its guidelines for what to do if there were ever a nuclear attack on an American city. The gist of the guidelines being that people should “shelter in place”, and not to evacuate the cities. This of course set me on an Internet search, where I found the old duck-and-cover commercials, to the discovery of Conelrad, which is basically the precursor to the Emergency Broadcast System, which is now the Emergency Alert System. Though how you “control” electromagnetic radiation, I’d like to know lol. Anyway, I brought this subject up, to me in passing really, to a friend I was talking to on Skype, to which she asked in what seemed to me a rather scoffing and condescending tone, “Are you afraid of a nuclear attack”? Admittedly, I used to be. When I was a kid. But then again, I also remember being afraid of tornadoes and earthquakes and things like that. But nuclear war and its aftermath was something that really frightened me. There was just something about potentially being here one minute, and then possibly vaporized the next and just not existing in physical form anymore, or surviving but then being made ill and/or dying by a substance you can’t see, touch, taste, or smell, that I just found, well, more horrifying than anything else, yet, for lack of a better word that I can think of at the moment, fascinating at the same time. Now as an adult “fear” wouldn’t describe how I feel now. “Wanting to be prepared as best I can” would be a more apt description. And I suppose that if something like an attack were to become eminent, I’d do my best to prepare accordingly. But the kind of fear and horror I felt as a child just, of course and obviously, doesn’t exist for me now. I remember people saying that if we ever were attacked by a nuclear weapon, they wanted to be right under the bomb or missile. I didn’t however. I wanted to hide away in a safe bunker somewhere, with plenty of food and water, only coming out once it was safe.

As I got older, I forgot about my fears and the nightmares I used to have. I forgot about how the movie Testament and later The Day After scared me so bad, but how I was kinda afraid to say how scared I was. I was afraid of being laughed at, and I guess I still am, because after the scoffing question from my friend, “are you afraid of a nuclear attack?” and the further scoffing “I think you are” when I said that I really wasn’t, just caused me to shut down and to change the subject as quickly as I could. Because when I brought up the subject, I wasn’t afraid at all, but curious as to why the government would come out with these guidelines now, if there supposedly was no threat. but supposedly, according to my friend, we supposedly have had the discussion of nuclear war many times. Have we? I sure don’t remember. Except for a discussion of “One Second After” which is a fictional depiction of a possible EMP attack on the US, and while a nuclear weapon, detonated high in the atmosphere would be used to carry out such an attack, it’s not the same as a full-fledged nuclear attack, and I for one put EMP attacks in a different category than, say, a standard nuclear attack in an American, or other, city. And in any case, I remember when reading “One Second After” kinda kicking myself because I wasn’t sure if I should put together a survival kit, which really I should do anyway because I live in a hurricane prone area, or whether I should kick myself for being paranoid.

At any rate, as with so many other things in my life, if discussing certain things is oging to makemelook like an unstable idiot, or something else less desirable,I just won’t discuss it. However, at least I’m not posting mock-ups of fake EAS nuclear attack warnings, or makeYouTube videos of the fallout shelter I have constructed in my backyard, which by the way I myself don’t have. My point being that it could be worse. I’m really not as cooky as I could be. And anyone who grew up, say, between the ’50s and the ’80s will tell you of the very real fear of a nuclear attack. Although by the time I came of school age, the era of duck-and-cover drills was long gone. I only remember my first introduction to the horrors of nuclear war coming in the form of the movie Testament and in that same summerwatching TV documentaries on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was ten. And scared, and wanting to say how scared I was, but getting the feeling that I’d be laughed at and criticized and ridiculed if I voiced that fear. So I just didn’t. Well, I’m sure I did at some point to people I trusted, and maybe that’s what my friend, whose known me since I was six, remembers.

Now as a Muslim, I sometimes find myself trying to put my childhood fears into somekind of islamic/Muslim perspective. if I fear, say, a nuclear detonation, or if reading of accounts of nuclear attack give me nightmares, am i somehow fearing man and his creation more than God? Or should I just make dua that Allah never allows such a thing to happen?

I don’t think it’s Death so much that I have an issue with. We are all going to die at some point, but it’s the instantaneousness of it, the being here one minute and gone the next. Or, if talking about say an asteroid or tornado or something like that, the violence of it. So maybe it’s a violent death that scares me. Because I remember after my house fire, one of the things that really left me in shock was the fact that if I didn’t get out of the house when I did, that perhaps I’d not have gotten out? I can only imagine being trapped in a house full of smoke and fire, desperately trying to get out but not being able to. AndI find that horrifying. Or maybe it’s the fear of something sneaking up on me without me being able to see it coming and thus to be able to prepare for it? Or maybe it’s, as a blind person, not being able to feel as prepared and in control as perhaps I think I might feel and be if I were sighted.

Anyway, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I sit in my house and live inmortal fear of something hitting my house and blowing me to bits, whether it’s a nuclear warhead, asteroid, tornado, hurricane, bolt of lightning, or something like that. I’m just saying, well, what am I saying? I’m not really sure exactly. Just that I’m not crazy, I guess, yeah, maybe that’s what I’m saying. Although that’s not it either because there are survivalists who do indeed prepare for say, an asteroid or a nuclear attack with the same seriousness that many of us might prepare for a hurricane, tornado or house fire. I’m just not one of those people. Even if I do express my childhood fears of such an attack, and even if I also express my curiosity as to why the government would suddenly start quietly discussing how to prepare for a nuclear attack with local emergency management personnel while at the same time saying there’s not an eminent threat. And even if I’m horrified at the awful things that any weapon of mass destruction can do to people.

My father used to say that when it’s your time to go,there’s nothing you can do about it. I just pray/make dua that when it’s my time, it’s quiet and peaceful. and I’m not terrified.

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About Ginny

A blind Muslim woman currently living in Florida, just trying to make sense of the world around me! !
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