One fond memory I have of being a child of the eighties is the Whitney Houston song “Greatest Love of All” which starts with “I believe the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside”. (I’m quoting purely from memory, I’m ashamed to say).
I remember thinking at the time “What a load of crap”, but last night I was thinking back about what the world offered me as a child and I remembered a very disturbing thought.
The cold war was this stupid thing that hung over life in the eighties. Like a false sword of Damocles. It was like if we didn’t all behave the Russians and the Americans would nuke each other and the whole world would die. Yay!
The nuclear thing invaded popular culture and media. There was the sad film “The Day After” about a nuclear bomb going off in an American city. I even remember an episode of “Benson” where they did a mock civil defence nuclear attack situation.
Then my local newspaper, The Waikato Times did an article about what would happen if a nuclear bomb was detonated in the middle of Hamilton.
From the article I worked out that from where I lived I would get really bad radiation sickness and my hair would fall out and eventually me, my family and my cat would die. I remember thinking that I wished I lived in the middle of Hamilton so I would die instantly instead of suffering.
How fucked up is that?
What kind of world did I live in where nuclear paranoia made me, an 8 year old girl, wish I lived in a certain place so I would die instantly?
As it turned out the Cold War was really just something to keep the American arms industry afloat. The was no major nuclear threat, especially not to Hamilton, New Zealand.
So what has this made me? Cynical and skeptical and with an intense dislike of Whitney Houston.