Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Man Who Saved The World

It was the 26th of September, 1983, and the world almost turned into a lifeless and silent radioactive cinder, endlessly spinning through space with nothing left to notice and no one left alive to care.

The only reason we are alive, today, is because a Soviet citizen did the unthinkable: he disobeyed protocol. He didn't call his superiors when it appeared that America launched nuclear missiles at the USSR. And that was because he thought what he saw on the computer report was a glitch, and took no action.

As a result, the USSR did not launch an all-out retaliatory strike on America, leading us to doubtless do the same to them. All because one man saw the reports and didn't buy them.

And, thankfully, he was right.

That man was Lt. Col. Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov. He was praised for his decision, then slapped on the wrist for not filing the right paperwork, and then farmed out to a less sensitive post by his embarrassed superiors.

From the Wikipedia page:

Petrov has said he does not regard himself as a hero for what he did that day. In an interview for the documentary film The Red Button and the Man Who Saved the World, Petrov says, "All that happened didn't matter to me — it was my job. I was simply doing my job, and I was the right person at the right time, that's all. My late wife for 10 years knew nothing about it. 'So what did you do?' she asked me. I did nothing."

He did nothing, but he was the right man to have been doing nothing at that time. And in such small but all-important ways, the Gods are very kind to we mortal fools on this spinning ball we all call a home, but still can't share all that well. So thank them, and Petrov, tonight for our continued existence.


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