The Day After
Hollywood is replete with movies and television programs about life after some disaster or another. Ice age, nuclear war, earthquake, meteor strike, you name it, and they’ve found a scenario. They all follow the same basic script: a plucky few survive against all odds, and live to establish the next society…naturally, one better than the one preceding it.
This really isn’t new. Most ancient civilizations have a destruction tale. Long before the biblical account of Noah and the flood, other accounts of a world-spanning deluge existed from millennia previous. For so many peoples to have similar cultural memories, historians believe there must have been an actual event sometime in the distant past.
Even in recorded historical times, we’ve seen our share of catastrophes. Volcanoes have wiped out towns or even entire civilizations. Plagues have killed as many as half the population at times. Tsunamis have washed ashore, nuclear plants have melted down.
After each disaster, we survived. Not just a plucky few, but many. We moved on, and sometimes we even learned from our mistakes. Sanitation, running water, and sewage treatment made city life less of a death sentence. Certainly this time around we’ll develop better diagnostic tools, stockpile more drugs and machinery.
But people still build in flood zones. Still act surprised when wildfires burn down their houses. Still buy food from questionable sources. Still tempt fate in a hundred ways each day.
One constant from my decades of working with kids: teenagers think they are invulnerable. Nothing bad can happen to them, only to other people. In many ways, the human race is still in its adolescent stage, recklessly pushing the boundaries.
Time will tell if we’ve learned any lessons this time around.
The Day After