Two minutes to midnight
It is now time to take a moment to reflect anew upon the elephant in the room. Yes, there are children of asylum seekers still separated from their parents. Yes, the evidence strongly suggests that the “president” stole the election with Russia’s help and is hoping to pilfer another election in November. Yes, Puerto Rico still has no power and Flint, Michigan, no potable water. Yes to a million other calumnies, infamies, traducements and obloquies. But none of it means a jot if we are all dead and our planet a cinder.
If you’re 64 or younger, this is the most dangerous year of your life and there’s no guarantee that next year won’t be worse no matter your age. For the first time since 1953 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight. The twin perils of anthropogenic climate change and nuclear proliferation helped them nudge it in that direction. That a profoundly stupid, malicious and self-obsessed Neanderthal superintends our current mess certainly made the two minute choice rational if not a tad optimistic.
It was easy up til now to imagine some special Providence guided America through some of its most harrowing times. That the man in charge for thirteen days in October, 1962, was preternaturally up to the job cannot be denied. And say what you will about Ronald Reagan, he was at least sane enough to keep clear of the red button during the worst tensions of the eighties.
But today – well. For those predisposed to believe in that Providence you might be forgiven if you were to ask Salieri’s question from the film Amadeus, “What is God up to?” For the rest of us we must be content to shake our heads and lament the truly shitty timing.
Make no mistake, that thing in the Oval Office would merrily permit you and a million of your fellow Americans to perish by nuclear holocaust or melting ice caps if it brought glory, hero status and, at the very least, plausible deniability his way. Factor in the scary predilection of the Religious Right, many of whom are actually praying for the end of the world. So sleep well and remember the elephant in the room. And hope that the elephant – as well as the rest of us – are still around in the morning.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.