I was thinking about nuclear war the other day and it occurred to me that no one has anything good to say about it. No one has ever come out in favor of it that I know of, and maybe no one has even considered the possible benefits that could arise from such an event. Therefore, in the interest of truth and risking heresy, I decided to take it on myself to explore the flip side, shall we say, the bright side of nuclear war. Believe it or not I found several positive things to say on the subject and if you are a liberal worthy of the label, surely you will be open-minded enough to hear me out.
First of all, you must admit that nuclear war would provide a certain cosmic harmony. After all, the universe as we know it began with a big bang. And so it goes . . . . On a more personal level, there’s a saying that somewhere out there is a bullet with your name on it. So a twenty-megaton hydrogen bomb is simply one bullet with everybody’s name on it. That one bomb then becomes the great equalizer of humanity, able to bring all classes, races and religions together, at last, in one brilliant flash of common destiny. (One twenty-megaton hydrogen bomb is the explosive TNT equivalent of twelve World War IIs or three Vietnams.) With nuclear war there is also a certain consolation that at least you know you aren’t going to be missing anything on earth when you’re gone. The Guinness Book of World Records will be closed and you won’t have to worry about your lover dancing away with another.
A nuclear bomb is also an appropriate symbol, one that fits well with the historical archetypes. It is phallic and ominous, something that Lord Shiva would be proud to use to end this show. It is no accident that J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the A-bomb, upon seeing the first test explosion, quoted from the Bhagavad Gita, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Furthermore, you may recall that Don Juan tells Carlos Casteneda to keep death over his left shoulder and that will help him to stay awake. The image of a nuclear bomb can be a very useful tool for this spiritual practice. For convenience the Pentagon gives all their bombs special names according to size, such as “Foxtrot,” “Hotel,” “Juliette,” and so on. You can choose your favorite. I’ve picked a relatively small 50,000 ton bomb named “Golf,” and whenever l get caught up in my own petty problems or self-importance, I just think of this little “Golf” bomb over my left shoulder and sure enough, it brings me right back into the present moment. In complete terror!
Of course, nuclear war will bring down interest rates, cure the heartbreak of psoriasis, and may even help to end the flow of discursive thoughts through the mind.
Finally, I think it was most appropriate that the code phrase for the success of the Indian government’s first atomic bomb test, as reported in Time magazine, was, “The Buddha is smiling.” The Buddha smiles through the beginning and end of all dharmas.