Somebody Call Serling

Watching the Nightly Newshour night before last, I was jolted to remember the three act play I wrote in 2015 about the state of the near future world. I predicted a war in the Middle East, going on at the same time as the war for the soul of Eastern Europe and … wait for it … a labor strike that gets mentioned at the end of the broadcast. Yep – it’s all there. And it doesn’t end well for any of us.

I know – here we go again, doomsday prepping…but where have you been lately? Category 5 hurricane hits Acapulco and destroys the town. Downright Biblical, especially since the night before everybody there went to bed thinking it was going to be a little storm. Oops – sorry about that, Acapulcans – got water?

All this is enough to make you really frightened for the world – are we on the verge of the next world war? I don’t think so – that’s quite frankly old thinking – like poor Tom Friedman continues to indulge in. Time to retire my dear…I don’t think you get what’s happening.

What is happening, then, you ask indignantly. OK – I’ll tell you: we are on the cusp of the major transition predicted by those folks that brought you the term anthropocene, as in the next era brought on by human acts. You’ve seen it all before, but brought to you as a form of entertainment. Video games, movies, post-apocalyptic odyssey stories. So who are we to be blamed for not understanding that it’s real this time? Or is it?

Harken back to a simpler time – say around October 2, 1959. First episode of writer Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” called “Where Is Everybody?” starring Earl Holliman, as a guy who can’t figure out if his world has ended. He’s quite frightened, until he finds out he’s a subject in a psychological experiment. Then he’s pissed off. So maybe we’re all lab rats in some superalien world psychological could be. Can you prove it isn’t?

So Serling got it – Rod Serling, author of great works like “Requiem for a Heavyweight” and “A Carol for Another Christmas”, one of the last things Peter Sellers was in. If you read Serling’s Wikipedia page, you can understand how he got it, given his wartime experiences in The Phillipines. Best cure for PTSD is to write it out – right? That’s what Rod did, and The Twilight Zone featured many of his efforts. But it all boils down to one thing that I keep focus on: fear. It isn’t the thing, it’s the fear of the thing that causes all the trouble. Hamas leaders feared they were losing control of the situation in Gaza, so they plan and execute a terrible raid that killed innocent Israelis. A wag the dog action, most likely. The reaction out of fear from Israel is killing more innocents. And so it goes, as Vonnegut said in “Breakfast of Champions.” He wrote that in a reaction of fear and disgust over Viet Nam. See the trend here?

So the play is “Fearful of the Sixth Extinction”. You can find it under the writing tab on this very blog. And I maintain that this is what has just begun. So now I am – fearful.

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