If the world goes to hell

This afternoon I came across the thought-provoking item, “12 Places to Go If the World Goes to Hell” at Business Insider. In an uncomfortable, perhaps intentional coincidence, it was posted on September 11.

Having grown up during and lived through the Cold War, I’ve had ample opportunity to consider where I might go if the world goes to hell and, quite possibly influenced by the hugely successful On the Beach (1959), my first thought was Australia. Nicely civilized, English-speaking, and remotely located. But it didn’t make the list.

Another thought was Oklahoma City, where I grew up. As a kid, I used to wonder how safe I was there in the middle of the Great Plains, and I concluded it was a pretty safe place to be. In the heart of the country, miles from any coast, and out of range of enemy ICBMs. It would be one of the last places reached by an invading army and there was nothing much there of any strategic value anyway. Well, except for Tinker Air Force Base. Big base in those days. Very important target. One of the top ten in the country. But I lived on the far side of the metro area from Tinker and calculated that the blast from a direct hit on the base would not reach to my home.

During the Cuban missile crisis, I drew circles on a map, calculating whether I was in danger from missiles in Cuba, and determined that central Oklahoma was just out of range. Thankfully that crisis was averted.

So, where to go if the world goes to hell now? A nuclear apocalypse seems less likely than isolated terror attacks or the disintegration of our social infrastructure. Finding safety is more complicated than drawing circles on a map. In fact, in a global economy, a “safe” location may not exist at all.

That said, I was relieved to discover Denver is on the list. Safe again! Or still. It’s all relative, of course, and very dependent on the nature of the threat. I also have to wonder if the creators of the list were influenced by the 1984 movie Red Dawn, but at least they seem to have considered more than geographical isolation.

For all I know, places on the list may have landed there through the diligent efforts of their respective chambers of commerce. But it did make me think, for a few minutes at least, about where I might go if the world goes to hell.

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