by Keith R. Jarvis
When I first learned about the solar eclipse of August 2017, I immediately thought of Asimov’s short story Nightfall, and the later novelization with Robert Silverberg. Of course the total eclipse that arrives on Monday won’t affect us in the same way as the residents of a world that has never experienced night. But the sense of catastrophe beyond control and my inability to prevent mass insanity has run rampant for me and many others this year. So last year I planned to re-read of this old favorite prior to the eclipse and completed it last night. I’ve come up with a baker’s dozen useful tidbits that I’d like to offer for consideration before, during, and after the total solar eclipse. Some of these ideas may be useful in other ways…
1. When darkness falls and madness surrounds you, avoid the urge to set everything on fire.
2. Those that avoid the rationality of science and reason are often the least resilient to change.
3. Religious fanatics may try to tell you that the end of the world is near, and that your wickedness is the reason for the current evil. Ignore them. You are a naturally beautiful and amazing creature.
4. Be on the lookout for the rise of petty tyrants, and remember they’re much more difficult to remove once they’re entrenched.
5. If you revel in ignorance and superstition you are doomed to repeat the patterns of history.
6. During and after calamity, even those you thought you knew as safe and sane may suddenly lash out and cause harm. For many it is as if they found that all the inhibitions of civilized life have fallen away and they have forgotten the rules that made civilized life possible. Like small children, asocial, concerned only with their own needs, but with the strength of adults and the will power of the deeply disturbed.
7. After disaster happens, nearly everyone will have a certain glazed look in their eyes, some from fatigue or despondency and others from madness. It’s difficult to tell at a quick glance whether the stranger approaching you is one of the bewildered and distraught or the kind full of lethal fury who may attack without rhyme or reason.
8. When you spot some crazy person openly carrying weapons, duck and hide.
9. It is astonishing how quickly you can become desensitized when faced with horror after horror. After a while you simply stop noticing the gore and no longer pay attention to the victims of the debacle. To persist in benevolence and keep feeling this agony may put your sanity at risk, but to deaden and deny is even more dangerous a descent.
10. Don’t blame those that tried to warn you.
11. In the aftermath, when you are trying to rebuild, come together with others of good intention – those who seek to preserve truth, learn from the past and non-violently help others survive.
12. Humbly admit that sometimes you don’t know what to do. Then do the next right thing.
13. Love each other.
Keith R Jarvis
Lessons I Learned from Nightfall
by Keith R. Jarvis