One often takes for granted the subtle pleasantries in life. Little things like the light flashing “Walk” just as you approach the crosswalk on Broadway, or the ten-dollar bill you find after you forgot you left it in your pocket, or the last of the daylight glowing deep red and orange off the side of Sterling Library. Yes, little things — ephemeral, quaint, fragile, all too fragile. You see, just as we fail to notice many of these little joys, we fail to notice their fragility, the tender balance of the world we live in, and just how quickly it can all incinerate into ashy oblivion.
Why, just a week ago we were very close to that fiery ending. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Cuban Missile Crisis? The U-2 Spy incident? Mutually assured destruction? Dr. Strangelove and the doomsday machine? Project X? Maybe I’m thinking of the wrong thing . . . Well anyway, a moment of equal magnitude, nay greater magnitude, occurred at our very own Yale University.
In his final Cold War class of the year, legendary Professor of History John Gaddis sat in a chair at the front of a massive lecture hall in SSS. Shortly after his opening remarks, the doors of the hall flew open and US government officials, dressed like college students dressing like US government officials, and high ranking members of the Soviet politburo, with fake Russian accents, masking their fake American accents, masking their real Russian accents, came flying down the aisles. They flanked the surprisingly calm Professor, and yelled:
“Professor Gaddis, the fate of the Cold War is in your hands! You must chose: peace, or mutually assured destruction.”
At that moment an angel and a man in a black suit holding a big red button appeared next to the Professor.
“Which will it be?” the delegates asked.
To our dismay, the Professor paused. His eyes twinkled. One could see the power, the fire, the sheer allure of destruction in his kind, old eyes. For a moment, it appeared as if the world were over. I clutched the arms of my chair. But then his face relaxed, he smiled, and he uttered, “Oh, all right.” And chose peace. Who knew politics could be that easy?
So rest easy over these last few days of finals, Yalies. For, as Professor Gaddis affirmed, we are in good hands.