‘Duck and Cover’ Will Not Protect Us

“Duck and Cover” our elementary school teachers told us during those frightening Cold War days when the Soviet Union promised annihilation of the West.

“Duck and Cover” our teachers shouted during our regularly scheduled air raid drills as we crouched beneath our small desks and placed our hands and arms over our heads turning our bodies away from the window to escape imploding broken glass shot at high velocity from imminent nuclear blasts.

And we trusted our teachers. If we followed their orders, if we were to “Duck and Cover,” we would surely survive the worst the Soviets had to throw at us. Stay under the desk as long as it took for the blast to end, and then rise and continue to live as we had before as if nothing bad had ever happened. As if nothing had changed.

Though we may have believed our teachers and their commands then, unfortunately, many of my generation and later continue to practice that procedure. They now duck beneath the truth and cover their consciousness while turning away from the windows of reason, empathy, and action.

They duck and cover from intervening against the nuclear blasts fired daily, no, hourly not from some hostile foreign power disposed to invade and take over our sovereign nation. Rather, they duck and cover from a hostile domestic power disposed to invade and take over our democratic institutions for its own self-aggrandizement emanating from demented minds.

No amount of ducking and covering would have helped us escape vaporization from a Soviet nuclear blast, and no amount of ducking and covering will now ensure escape and survival from a bitter legacy of cowardice and condemnation for remaining silent when integrity and voice were most needed.

In the immortal words of author and essayist Gertrude Stein:

Let me repeat what history teaches. History teaches!

And history teaches that when good people fail to speak out against bad actors and actions, shame, corruption, cruelty, and, yes, evil ascends and soars ever higher overtaking the good. This is as true in genocidal slaughters, the downfall of nations, all along the continuum to individual acts of bullying in societies and in schools.

Yes, history teaches. But who will arise from our small desks of false protection and take our hands and arms from our senses?


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