At 8:07 on Saturday morning, Hawaii residents woke up to an emergency alert on their cellphones:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Until a second message called it a false alarm 38 minutes later, the people of Hawaii contemplated the end — the end of their lives, of their families, of essentially everything they know and love.
I am originally from Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park was within walking distance from my grandfather’s house.
As a family physician, I cared for Marshall Islander survivors of nuclear testing. Disaster medicine is one of my academic interests.
The war of words between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un brings the world perilously close to nuclear Armageddon. As North Korea tests nuclear devices and delivery systems, the U.S. conducts military exercises and draws up plans for pre-emptive strikes.
As adversaries go on hair-trigger alert, the potential for a mistakenly launched nuclear exchange increases. The probability of nuclear war thus approaches the probabilities that during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The standoffs at the Russian border and in Syria are other reasons why the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have placed the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
Under these circumstances, the people of Hawaii had good reason to fear that the threat was real. Many surely had an existential moment.
We should all pause to contemplate how each of us lives each day.
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