Do you believe that Western Christian civilization will
survive to the year 2000?
Of a group of suburban housewives contacted in a special
poll, 100 per cent said 'yes.' 'How' was another matter.
In the same poll, the women were asked to say whether
they felt nuclear attack on this country was 1) impossible, 2) unlikely, 3)
possible or 4) probable. 82 per cent chose 'possible.' Remainder said
Asked what they would do if given two hours attack
warning time, 70 per cent gave answers reflecting some knowledge and
forethought. Only six per cent said they would try to get out of town. Most
said they would snatch up canned goods, water and children and head for a
basement or some other 'safest area.' Remaining 24 per cent said they had no
idea what they would do.
Asked what they would do if they had only 15 minutes
warning time, 64 per cent said they would take whatever shelter was available
as quickly as possible. Other 36 per cent gave answers such as 'panic,'
'pray,' and 'nothing.'
Asked if they felt the country's present civil defense
preparedness was adequate to enable the country to survive nuclear attack, 100
per cent said 'no.' Asked if they felt it could be done, 78 per cent said
'yes.' Remainder expressed some degree of doubt.
The women questioned do not constitute what professional
pollsters call a 'true sample.' If was made entirely among housewives in one
of the 'better-off' neighborhoods of a medium-sized Texas city [Fort Worth]
that is regarded as a target area. It was heavily and purposely weighted
toward people who could normally expect to live to the year 2000.
Purpose of the poll was not to jar anyone into action nor
to gain any accurate statistical measurement of civil defense home
preparedness. It was to try to develop some feeling as to the answer of the
question of our time: 'Will we survive?'
Arnold Toynbee, the eminent British historian, lists 21
civilizations known to have existed since man took charge of the earth. Of
these, 16 have passed away. Only 5 remain, of which ours is one.
Mr. Toynbee further believes that civilizations are born,
develop and continue to flourish as a result, not of ease and security, but of
the response that is stimulated by harsh threatening circumstances. He also
suggests that civilizations can be 'spoilt by success' so that they 'rest on
their oars' and fail to respond to meet the last--and fatal--challenge.
Whether we as a people are responding adequately to the
threat of our day is an open question. You might make your own poll and draw
your own conclusions.
There is an oft-told, but pointed, tale of how a crab
reacts to the problems of having one claw staked down to the ground so that he
cannot move. According to the story, if the crab is confronted with some sharp
and obvious danger, such as the approach of a deadly enemy, he will pull loose
and save himself, even if it means tearing off a claw.
But if the crab is faced only with gradual starvation, he
will stay where he is--and die