It ain’t as bad as it seems, or is it?


By Hardy Jackson

The other night I caught a TV evangelist explaining to a church full of frightened folks that Biblical prophecy is being played out in the Middle East and we better get ready for THE END.
Switched the channel and found a news “Analyst” predicting World War III.
Then I turned to the Weather Channel which filled me in on all the natural catastrophes facing us and how most of them were the result of something humans have done or are doing.
Wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes and floods.
Time for a little historical reflection – which is ‘bout the only kind I am qualified to do, certifiably and all that.
So here goes.
Back about half a century ago the Kingston Trio (remember them) sang this little ditty:
They’re rioting in Africa,
They’re starving in Spain.
There’re hurricanes in Florida,
And Texas needs rain.
If that wasn’t enough, the Trio continued:
The whole world is festering
With unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans,
The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs,
South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don’t like anybody very much.
Tweak it a bit and it could be today. And we could sing:
There’s genocide in Africa
Lebanon is being bombed.
They’re sneaking in from Mexico
The President’s alarmed.
Sound familiar?
My point is this.
History teaches us that as bad as things may seem, we have been there before. And we have dealt with it.
What we have got to keep in mind is that we, our generation, is not unique. Just like those who came before us, some of our problems are too great to be solved or too insignificant to trouble us.
Unfortunately, we are in the middle of one of those “ain’t we special” periods where we think our problems are the worst problems ever.
The whole world’s divided,
Whose side is God on?
The Moslems say that He’s on theirs
The Christians say they’re wrong.
Let’s not stop there.
Conservatives hate liberals
The liberals hate ‘em back
Neither one will cut the other any slack.
‘Course we thought we were special back when the Trio first sang the song. All those other people fussing and fighting. Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Communists and capitalists in Germany. Fascists and socialists in Spain.
But we can be tranquil
And thankful and proud.
For man’s been endowed with
A mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain
That some lucky day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away.
Back when the Kingston Trio sang that verse, nuclear disaster looked like a real possibility.
It still does.
Syria is a time bomb
That’s got a short fuse,
The Shiites hate the Sunnis,
Hezbollah hates the Jews
Invaders keep invading
Peacekeepers pulling out
And no one seems to know
What it’s about.
So I went to the TV today, looking for comfort and discovered:
They’re rioting in Tehran
Our troops are in Iraq.
Others went to
Don’t know when they’re coming back.
Sound familiar. Listen on.
The Ice Cap is melting
Australia’s on fire.
California with mudslides
Is sinking in the mire.
Pay attention now.
Word comes out from Tel Aviv,
Iran has The Bomb
Now everyone will want one,
Quick sound the alarm.
And we know for certain
That some lucky day,
Someone will set the spark off,
And we will all be blown away.
Wait, that last verse was from 1959.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here