A Short Chronology of Mankind and His Weapons

        Once upon a time, God thought it would be a good idea to put some people on the Earth. Since He could not stick around and watch over things, the best he could do was give them the ability to live and survive. So, the long slow struggle began. Early tribes had to beg, bicker, and barter for the necessities of life. So, when it became a matter of defending themselves and protecting what they had, their only option was finding the biggest stick, or rock, and going into action. There were no alternatives.

        God also sternly warned them not to take each other's lives, because death is contrary to existence, although natural death is a part of the larger process. For many years humanity lived pretty much like the other animals, then one day lightning struck a tree during a storm, and it burst into fire. Awed, they managed to capture and maintain a flicker of that flame; soon they were warming and lighting their caves. Cooking their food soon followed. Even better, ferocious animals didn't like it one bit.

        Discovering and using fire soon led to someone heating certain rocks (iron ore) into a liquid state, and metal became a part of their lives. Knives were useful for many things, including shields, maces, and lances. After all, a good sword is better than a rock in a fight to survive, whether against dangerous animals or really bad people.

        Another huge development occurred sometime later. Men tended to do the hunting while women did chores closer to home, such as looking for wild fruits and vegetables. Then one sunny spring day while camped for the summer a gatherer decided to bring some seeds home and see if they would grow. They did.

        That brought another monumental change. The days of the hunter-gatherer slowly passed from living in caves and camps to building permanent colonies, and towns; cities grew larger connecting trade routes. Unfortunately, arguments often led to wars.

        If we were to look at a time-line from the beginning to the present, we would notice an interesting feature. Historical events seem to be occurring in shorter time periods. It took millions of years for early hominids to stand and walk on two feet, and then thousands for the tool age to begin. Finally, humankind arrived at the dawning of the Renaissance age in spans of hundreds of years. It seems that every significant change takes less time than the one before it.

        Another huge discovery eventually changed things without much notice. Gunpowder. The Chinese brought notice of this stuff to the Western world with their fireworks displays. Rockets shot into the air propelled by small blasts heralded the dawn of a sinister new age of explosive weaponry. It wasn't long before cannons appeared on ships, and field artillery on land no further back than a few centuries ago.

        Changes came faster and faster. Within a few lifetimes, the old blunderbuss and flintlocks came along, but they were difficult and cumbersome to reload. No problem, the good'ol six shooter appeared followed by the repeating rifle. Gone were the days of hand to hand combat on the battlefield with personal weapons. Huge advancements were made during the first world war. Tanks, hand grenades, and other explosive devices became a part of the armory, and the newly invented airplane was quickly adapted to warfare. Then Adolf Hitler came on the scene and took advantage of Germany's nationalistic fervor, and world war two began.

        Toward the end of the war, Hitler was believed to be working on a super bomb that if ever completed could determine the outcome of the war. The basis of this bomb resided in the physics of the tiny atom discovered by the scientist Albert Einstein. A massive undertaking began in the New Mexico desert called the Manhattan Project, and it was successful. The age of the atomic bomb had arrived. B-29s carried these terrible weapons to Japan. The world was awed at the massive destruction of the two cities and its citizens. Russia soon tested its own atomic bomb thanks to the espionage efforts of several spies at the Manhattan Project.

        Also toward the end of the war, Hitler borrowed the old Chinese use of the rocket, and developed the ability to load munitions on V1 rockets; these he aimed at British cities, particularly London. The US was not far behind in rocket science, and managed to mount an atomic bomb on the tip of a missile. Naturally, Russia acquired the ability to match the US by building intercontinental ballistic missiles too, with ten independently targeted warheads. Welcome to the atomic age.

        As mentioned, it seems to me that historical advancements are being compressed into smaller or shorter time segments. For instance, my father was born before the Wright brothers flew the first heavier than air plane, and he lived to see the first men walk on the moon. That is an incredible accomplishment for humanity in one lifetime.

        Since the USSR and US signed peace treaties, and put red telephones in their Capitols, there has been an uneasy peace for many years. It is often referred to as the MAD policy, or Mutual Assured Destruction. There has been only one serious incident that virtually put the world in danger. That was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Russia was building missile launch sites in Cuba, only ninety miles from the US coast. President Kennedy put a blockade on Cuba, and Khrushchev threatened nuclear retaliation for blocking their ships. At the time it was a terrifying situation that since has all but been forgotten. Today nuclear proliferation is out of control.

        Times have changed. Through most of history wars have been regional, and there has always been a time factor between events making it easier to think and reason ahead. The world has always had a time cushion between decisions to consider future actions, such as declaring war, which conventionally ranges from fighting battle to battle, charging and retreating, negotiating and making treaties. But what happens when too many things happen too fast? Or, In other words, is it possible that things could happen all at once, such as the release of all the nuclear tipped missiles in the world? There is always someone with their thumb on the button. Example: suppose a nation accidentally, or maybe in anger, or even hate, fires a nuclear device at another country and great damage is done. They immediately retaliate and shoot back in kind, and ask their allies to help them. In some cases, the missiles will be in the air and both sides tracking them incoming on monitors. Would this be living on borrowed time? It would be the last war fought on this planet. The devastation would be complete. All life would eventually perish by radiation. The Earth would become a toxic rock. We are out of time. The situation is reaching critical mass. Something has to give. God is not happy!

        I queried the Yahoo search engine with this question: "What are the biggest threats facing mankind?" I was expecting the nuclear war option to show up at least in the first half dozen answers. I was shocked that the first reference to atomic war was on the second page in the nineteenth spot. Here is the 19th answer:

        From Yahoo: Best Answer - Chosen by Asker.

        "In my opinion of course, man kind is destined to destroy itself. I won't say how or when, but with such great advances in technology and sciences, world peace will never be possible. I can't be too specific, as I cannot entirely predict when in fact everyone will realize our great doom, but it's an idea. An important one that will continue to find it's way into these tacky online discussion boards. As for minimizing said threats, well, that's impossible. Sorry. We're already too far in. Such morbid thoughts, I know, but such realistic ones indeed."

        I am not quite so pessimistic myself because we are all still here supposedly safe. Nuclear war does not have to happen, but people just do not want to deal with the possibility. They respond with: "What can I do?" Or, "Hey, I got my rent to worry about." Or, "We aren't that stupid." People are too complacent and naive about doom's day scenarios and are prone to scoff at them. Big mistake!

        We as a people all sharing this world have a responsibility to protect and preserve our beloved planet. Speak out!

Essays Menu