The Cold War was raging when I was growing up in Alaska. At school, each term we practiced survival from a Russian atomic bomb attack by getting under our desks on our hands and knees and tucking our heads between our knees. We feared that the Russians would a-bomb Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force base on their way to obliterate Seattle and other west coast targets.
My fertile imagination was triggered by such worries so I sought and found solace in fantasies. I had about a half mile walk from the school bus stop to our log home along a narrow, snow covered road that often shimmered with reflections of the aurora borealis. As I walked, the electric colors dancing all around me, I fantasized about bringing peace to the world. In my fantasy friendly aliens would beam me up to their flying saucer, abducting me, but for good purposes. They would tell me I had been chosen to bring peace to Earth. In order for me to accomplish this formidable mission, the Aliens gave me a flying saucer of my very own, equipped with all sort of devices that would render weapons of all nations useless. Of course, my fantasies never included details of how such weapon neutralizers worked, or how a flying saucer flew, or more importantly, why I was chosen. But in these fantasies, chosen I was, and in these fantasies I did in fact bring peace to the world. And, I must admit, the fantasy included bringing fame and acclamation to myself.
Now, sixty five years later, and I confess, with ego and fantasies of fame still intact, as I go outside to the hot tub before going to bed, I tell Leila that if I do not come back in and she steps out to the deck and I am gone, she must not worry.
“I will eventually return, honey, it’s just that finally the aliens will have abducted me. I will be back once I have save the world from war, hunger, violence, disease and all things evil and destructive.” We’ve had the hot tub for 16 years. I am in it two or three times a week. I stare up at the stars, the moon, the flashing lights of jets coming and going from the Oakland and San Francisco airports and I wait and wait.
“I’m ready, Aliens. I am ready.”
For most of my life I have waited and I am still waiting to be abducted. I have not surrendered my desire to be abducted and to save the world; rather I have reluctantly accepted the cold hard fact that it just won’t happen. Aliens are not going to save us. Nor is God is about to save us. As a Christian I believe in an afterlife in a place where love and peace abound and evil is absent, but I am convinced that in this life salvation is in our hands. The peoples of the world have the resources, the intelligence, and the wherewithal to abduct ourselves from war, disease, poverty, violence and destruction. But do we have the will?
Violence rages in every corner of the world, including my little corner here in Oakland. It took me approximately three hours to write and edit this blog post. In those three hours over 12,000 people starved to death. The world has put HIV-AIDS on the back burner, ignorant or not caring that millions of men, women and children are infected with AIDS every year and millions die from it and numerous opportunistic diseases. Our government has put the needs of economically stressed and suffering citizens aside as it enacts legislation that further enriches the wealthy.
Here and throughout the world evil and terror flourish. If we are to be abducted from these evils, we will have to do it by ourselves. I pray that we will find a way, but I ask again, do we have the will?
It is seven p.m. Christmas evening. I am filled with the joy of this day and my faith. Yet, in a few hours I will again sit in the comfort of the hot tub and wait to be abducted.
Kerry Gough © 2017