In October 1962 world tensions were high. In an effort to counter the strategic advantage the USA had gained from placing nuclear missiles in Turkey, the USSR was taking steps to place some of their own in Cuba.
The Americans spotted the communist efforts, and the ensuing escalation of dickwaving may have almost blown up the world, with neither side willing to back down in case the humiliation made their nation infertile. In the end an agreement of sorts was reached, and everyone went safely home wondering how far we were from pulling the trigger on ourselves once and for all.
Right now, the world is faced with a situation that could, at any moment, develop into this generation's very own Doomsday Panic. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad stands accused of using chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. As punishment for this supposed deed, the Western Allies appear to be planning a missile strike on Syria. Because Iran has been reported to have boasted that they will destroy Israel if Syria is hit, and because the Western response to this would be hysterical, we are faced with unusually high odds of human extinction within the week.
The terror that this spread through the world may have been the catalyst for the great rejection of warmongering that characterised the late 60's and early 70's in the USA. After a few years of finger up the bum time, people appeared to slowly realise that the nuclear arsenals capable of killing us all needed only to be fired, and that the guys with their fingers on the buttons only needed an excuse. Questions began to be asked, such as "who is actually in charge of this circus?" and "can we trust them?"
Because studying how politics works usually leads to despair, people turned away from Babylon and tried to make lives for themselves. An age of distrust for the authorities began, perhaps culminating in the French riots/strikes of May 1968. As people came to understand the mentality and social structures that put the entire world at risk in 1962 they also came to reject them. At least for a while - the situation in the Middle East right now suggests that the people who remember that particular moment of history might all have been pensioned off.
This means that the current Syria crisis is a great opportunity to spread a wave of love around the world, perhaps if we just stoke it up a bit more. What humanity needs is to once again gamble our very existence on the emotional composure of people who are not guaranteed to be exemplars of human restraint and moral conduct. We need Obama to strike Syria and kill hundreds of people for no clear sensible reason, so that we can have two weeks of Iran threatening to nuke Israel and the USA and Russia to gamble the planet on maintaining face. I believe that the absurdity of this situation - so tantalisingly close now - will inspire humanity to once again look for the things we have in common and for paths of co-operative and loving action.