The Doomsday Clock originated in 1947 at the University of Chicago. Conceived as a barometer (to mix measurements) for the threat of nuclear war between the US and the USSR, it now reflects any development that “could inflict irreparable harm” to humanity.
What happens however, if humankind reaches the midnight hour, and doesn’t realize it?
Humanity will inwardly die before we perish outwardly. In the global society, the inward death is spreading, originating in America in the early ‘90’s, and then diffusing to the English-speaking countries. It now infects many, if not all nations.
The same spiritual death that has occurred in America happened in Germany in the early ‘30’s. Now however, it’s no longer a matter of nations and peoples, but humanity as a whole.
It’s been nearly 20 years since the straw that broke the spirit’s back in America (the first Gulf War). America ran on ‘sole remaining superpower’ fumes in the ‘90’s until its collapse could no longer be denied after the Twin Towers came down.
But in a global society, heavyweights like America or China aren’t a predictor of where humanity is headed. So where is humanity headed, and how close to midnight are we?
There are two kinds of predictions—those that simply indicate a trend, and those that are the first part of prophecy.
Trends are all of the same superficial character, as indicated by the idiocy that passes for popular wisdom on the Net and Tube, called ‘trendspotting,’ or simply ‘trending’ (as in ‘trending now’).
Unfortunately, the Doomsday Clock, while a serious measurement of man’s proximity to self-destruction, is of the trending type.
Besides, all trends are slightly behind what is actually happening, even as they purport to be the latest or hippest expression of what people are interested in. That’s best illustrated by the Doomsday Clock itself.
The closest the world ever came to nuclear annihilation was the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. The USSR installed medium to long range missiles in Cuba; the US blockaded the island, and came within a whisker of invading.
Unbeknownst to Kennedy and his civilian and military advisors, the Russians had also installed tactical nuclear weapons (designed to wipe out soldiers on the battlefield rather than entire cities), and had given the Cubans the authority to use them.
As Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said many years later, “we came within an inch of all-out nuclear war.”
But the nuclear clock didn’t budge from its rather relaxed 12 minutes before the doomsday hour. (The closest to midnight the clock was ever set was in 1953, after the USSR tested its first hydrogen bomb, reacting 9 months after the US detonation of “Mike” in the Pacific. That thermonuclear bomb was 1000 times more powerful than the atomic ‘device’ that leveled Hiroshima; it obliterated an atoll and made a crater a mile wide on the ocean floor.)
Where should the clock be set now? I’ll lay my cards on the table. I feel humankind is on the cusp of either perishing as a species, or breaking through as one. It’s one minute to midnight.
Again, if we continue on our present course, and don’t make the transition to a global civilization, man will perish, inwardly before outwardly. I’m talking about the only kind of extinction that matters—the extinguishment of the human spirit. The flame is flickering, and it’s in real and present danger of going out.
What’s destined to happen isn’t first; what’s first is whether enough people are prepared to provide a true response for humanity when the event occurs. For example, how would the global community respond (not the ‘international community,’ a phrase that can’t be uttered with a straight face) to a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula?
The sovereignty of 200 nations lies at the root of the coming catastrophe, whatever or wherever it happens. The global community can respond in principle and practice when it occurs, finally putting the sovereignty of humanity before the sovereignty of nations.
If even a small minority of people cease and desist from identifying with particular groups (whether national, religious, or ethnic), then humankind will make the turn and begin the transition to a workable global civilization.
National leaders, including President Barack Obama, fear the loss of national sovereignty, saying it will lead to anarchy. In their failure of imagination, they don’t see that there is another way altogether.
That doesn’t mean world government, or the abolishment of the rightful authority of nations. It simply means that it is possible, indeed imperative, that global citizens create a true accord, arising from a new compact, flowing from a psychological revolution.