For the First Eighteen Years of my Life I Lived in a Country Paralyzed by Abject Fear

Photo by Thijs Degenkamp on Unsplash

The country was The United States. The fear was of nuclear annihilation, DDT, the Soviet menace, the Red Chinese, Vietnam starting to boil over and when I was 18, my draft number. Plus there were all the civil rights protests and trouble in Selma, men in space, and Kennedy assassinated.

A few times a year I watch this YouTube video of Barry McGuire singing the song written by P.F. Sloan, The Eve of Destruction. (Apparently Panama doesn’t want me watching an anti-war protest song, but I’ll give you readers a link to YouTube and you can find it for yourself online.) I’m doing this just in case the embed below doesn’t work, because it is a great song, and still relevant 55 years later. . . . or . . .

I still listen to music all the time. And it’s mostly stuff from the 1950s, 60s, all the way to now. It matters a lot to me, and I appreciate people who publish their favorite bands on Medium.*

Well, to continue the story, Barry McGuire sang the song in 1965. P.F. Sloan had written it in 1964, and reports it as a sort of songwriter’s epiphany. It’s worth a read of either or both of the following links. The first one has the lyrics, on

Now it’s 55 years later and it feels like nothing has changed. And with all the doom-scrolling and writing, we can add that stress itself to the list of things that put us into fearful paralysis. Well, maybe not for me — I relax when I figure stuff out and write. Many of the excellent writers on Medium have lived through the same era and really, it feels like we’re getting our messages out there.

For whatever it’s worth, anyway. The messages got out in the 60s and 70s too. There was reaction, sure. In general the public got pissed at the musicians. P.F. Sloan was banned from the 3 television networks. I guess that’s why I wanted to publish a song this time. I weary of trying to penetrate people’s skulls with hard facts and well-thought-out opinions.

Last chance for all you out there to decide to make changes. For example, the government of the U.S. needs to be overthrown and converted into a democratic socialist state, like the good ones in Europe. The end is nigh.


Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages.

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Fred Ermlich

Fred Ermlich

Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages.

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