History was made this past week as the leaders of two countries locked in what was technically the longest-running current war (more than seventy-two years) pledged to end that war and scale back their saber-rattling. How this will all play out remains to be seen, but it is a dramatic step back from the precipice of nuclear war that seemed like a terrifyingly real possibility only months before. Of course, talk is cheap and we have all learned by now not to simply trust the words of politicians. However, there is definitely a global sigh of relief that things seem to be improving in at least one part of the world.
As the internet rhetoric swirled and spun and debates blazed and burned, I got the impression from many doomsday-focused people (also known as “preppers”) that a North Korea/South Korea-US war would be the spark that would ignite World War Three and bring about Mutually Assured Destruction for all parties involved. I can’t say if any of them are actually excited about the possibility of nuclear war but there must certainly be some degree of satisfaction from seeing one’s preparatory efforts pay off (as well as thumbing their noses at their incinerated neighbors’ corpses for not believing them). Now the threat doesn’t seem as dire and it’s more-or-less back to business as usual (whatever that means) in our crazy, chaotic world.
Yet despite what preppers and conspiracy theorists and morons who drive vehicles with “Zombie Response Team” decals might imagine, there is nothing cool about a global nuclear apocalypse. Books, movies, and video games have made the irradiated wasteland and decimated cities into bullet-riddled playgrounds for heavy metal fashion shows. History has shown us plenty of examples of what to expect from a total war scenario, and even the nightly news gives us a glimpse of what a global catastrophe might look like. Entire city blocks reduced to rubble are now the defining landmarks of Syrian metropolises and despondent, ghost-like figures walk the streets in a daze. Roving bands of outlaws prey on the weak, and murder, rape, starvation, and misery are constant occurrences. Imagine if this was in every major city in the world. Famine and disease would be the most fearsome enemies, and every remaining resource would be quickly consumed. Desperate
survival would be the only law as any remnants of civilization would evaporate.
One of the most gripping and presumably realistic apocalyptic movies is an old British film called Threads. It is relentlessly grim and bleak and has one of the most horrifying endings of any film I’ve seen. In typical British fashion, this film strives for unflinching realism, which does not make for a particularly entertaining movie but it is certainly captivating. Fantastical elements like gladiator vehicles and fashionably-tattered leather outfits are nowhere to be found. It is just tragedy after tragedy, which is how a nuclear war would unfold.
The Bible, especially the Book of Revelation, foretells the horrors and despair of a global cataclysm. Revelation 6:14, talks about the sky rolling back like a scroll and the mountains and islands are moved out of their places, and Revelation 8:8 describes a mountain of fire thrown into the sea. Plagues and devastation cause the people of the Earth to cry out for the rocks to fall on them to hide them from God’s wrath (Rev. 6:16). People won’t become road warriors or zombie-slaughtering conquerors; they will become like animals, scrounging through the dirt to find anything that will keep them and their families alive.
Of course, these scenarios are why preppers hoard their food and ammunition, but something tells me things wouldn’t turn out the way they see it, either. Even in small-scale catastrophes, no one remains untouched and sheltered. Fortune may favor the prepared mind, but it is folly to think that preparation or bravado are enough to hold the apocalypse at bay.