Curtis Lyle Lawrence

July 1997

The Poster

There is a picture on my wall called "Hydrogen Bomb"; it depicts the mushroom cloud of an H-bomb exploding on a group of small tropical islands. It's awe-inspiring in a terrible way, truly terrifying. My father (who doesn't know I'm gay or bisexual or whatever yet) asked me why I had bought the bloody thing and at the time I couldn't give a coherent reply.

At first, I thought that my attraction for the poster was caused by a residue of dysfunctional Christianity (all that wonderful stuff about some place called Hell and the end of the world, yadda-yadda). As many of you Christian gaylesbitrans can attest to, I had a difficult time reconciling who I was with what a 5000 year old guy with an eighth of my IQ. said I was. (Plus getting psycho-sexually abused by a cult-like right-wing Christian organization for four days really screwed me up some, too, but that's another story...and another lawsuit, too...)

Anyway, in a nutshell, Christianity always talks love and the forgiveness of God, but the alleged end of everything is always there at the edge of the Christian consciousness, rearing its head to gaze with sleepy eyes into our 'souls'. Eyes that say "Soon. Not now -- maybe tomorrow. Soon." Then it nods off to sleep and we get on with our meager existence.

Even former Catholics, like myself feel this at times. Existential angst + being gay/bi/questioning + doomsday beliefs == 1 seriously fucked up head, yes? So why was I apparently feeding this apocalyptic anxiety with images of mass destruction?

I went over to study the poster one night to answer my question, and I realized that the poster had attracted me for an entirely different and profound reason. Some one once said that "Invention is but an extension of the human body." I saw the truth of this statement, because the image of the bomb-blast reflected the paradoxes of human nature.

There I see an H-bomb explosion--a weapon of massive, violent destruction. Yet in the gigantic mushroom cloud I also see humanity's infinite ability of invention. The ability to bring order to chaos and to bring chaos out of order. Destruction from creation. Melodrama from banality and a bunch of big words.

I see humans growing in knowledge and learning to mater the universe. Yet they use this knowledge like a toy, seeing if they can make a bigger and better "BOOM!"

I see humanity harnessing the atom so they can unleash it one another over puerile squabbles over pathetic differences. We are a race that is growing in power but is lacking in wisdom and compassion. "A grievously savage child-race" John deLancie once correctly called us, to our chagrin.

In the fiery column of destruction do I see the endless march onward and upward and for a moment -- a moment -- I am glad that there are those in this world who are conservative to progress and change.

"Too soon! Too soon!" they cry. "Never that! We won't let you go there! We won't let you defile our children with your lies! We oppose you! What we think mighty, you make weak! What we think sacred, you make vulgar (common) What we believe to be true, you show to be false!"

After hearing their tirades for 15 seconds I smile wryly at the irony of it all. When their way was once threatened by the "commie menace" they were gung-ho about total annihilation of the human race, but when we talk about putting away such dangerous toys and work to make a world where such weapons would never be needed they are suddenly up in arms. Many of them are terrified by their imaginary enemies while others believe they are doing "God's will" by preparing the world for the fiery doom described in their books.

I shake my head. Then I notice the other poster on my wall, which is slightly lower. It is one of "Deep Space Nine" of "Star Trek" fame. It is the creation of one man's hope for the brightest future for humanity.

It is of a future where we survived the flames and said "Never again! Never will we fight sibling against sibling. Never again will we devalue someone else because who or what they are may be uncomforting -- alien -- to us because we have seen where that road has taken us." It is a future where people stopped waiting for eternal paradise in an after-life but instead strove for a paradise in this life.

Lately, when I stare at this poster I notice that it is always crooked. I try to adjust it by raising one corner or the other. This has resulted in the poster climbing up the wall. Slowly but surely "Hydrogen bomb" is losing ground, and one day I am sure that the poster about hope and dreams of a better tomorrow will ascend above the other one. It's like some sort of omen... Either that or my house has been subsiding and I just haven't realized it until now.

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