I remember when we had the first "atom bomb drills" in school. We all had to practice dropping to the floor and hiding under our desks while closing our eyes and covering our ears when the Commie atom bombs fell. This was to protect us against flying glass, ruptured eardrums and blindness due to the artificial sun of atomic energy.
"How will we know when it's safe to come out?" inquired one student.
"After the flash of light and the noise of the explosion."
Finally a student asked one of the more cynical teachers the inevitable question: "How will we see the flash and hear the explosion if we've got our eyes closed and ears covered?"
"Don't worry," the teacher said with a sigh, "You'll see the flash through your eyelids and hear it even with your ears covered. You'll feel the impact on your skin."
This was reassuring (not!), and I asked my Dad what he would do if the bomb dropped.
"I've seen the pictures of the unlucky ones who temporarily survived Hiroshima. If the bomb drops, I'll be standing out in my yard hoping to go quickly," he replied. I decided not to worry about it any more - what will be, will be.
As someone who remembers - and later studied as a teenager - the propaganda machines of WWII as well as during other conflicts, plus the "hiding under the school desk" bit, I think this time it was the duct tape that did it. Maybe that and the plastic sheeting.
It's not that I don't believe in being prepared. We have food stocks, TP, bottled water and batteries on hand all the time. We have hurricane shutters and lanterns and radios. We have a well-stocked first aid kit. Frankly, I think everyone should have that and more on hand in case of the inevitable hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, or even sudden illness or loss of job.... And all that isn't a bad idea for dealing with the present crises. But duct tape and plastic? We don't even know the nature of the threat or where we might be hit! At least the manufacturers and retailers of duct tape and plastic sheeting are happy.
Are we on the right track? I don't know. Neither does hardly anyone else know. How can one be sure either way? After all, think of the Twin Towers. Could we have avoided it? Who knows? Can we even put a stop to radical Islamic and other tyrants' rhetoric and evil plans? I'm really afraid that tyrants, power-hungry religious fanatics, dictators, terrorists and those just desperate for food and water are like waterbeds - push down in one place and another section pops up.
Being a history buff, I am grateful we don't live in savage times, having progressed to more civilized behavior. How terrible to have lived during the era of European city-states and principalities, all jockeying for power and territory. Or during the reigns of the more infamous English and French monarchies, waging war over the bodies of their subjects. Or the Spanish Inquisition? Or during the African tribal conflicts even now still ongoing, or the Chinese dynasties. Or the Aztec or Maori stylized war games... After all, we aren't savages any more, right?