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Cold War

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There are two boys at school who really hate each other. One just can't stand the other's existence. The odd thing is that they don't know why they hate each other. Another odd thing is that they have never fought. They have come pretty close, standing toe-to-toe; staring at each other, but one of them always backs off.

Whenever they face off, each of them has his own squad of cronies, ready to jump in at the twitch of an eye. What started as two guys accidentally bumping into each other could quickly escalate into an all out brawl at the drop of a dime.

The silence is deafening. The two boys' stares are cold and alarmingly deep. Their fists are clenched and their jaws are tightly closed. Their breathing becomes rapid. Rage wells up and fills their eyes. Onlookers hold their breath in anticipation of the carnage that is to come. The whole school knows that if these two actually threw down, there would be no holding back.

Hearing the lack of noise and seeing the circle of kids, teachers, coaches, and the school resource officers come rushing to the scene. The two boys slowly back away from each other, neither one taking his eyes off the other. Everyone goes back to what they were doing, but the cloud of tension still hangs thick in the air.

Other kids wonder why these two never actually fight. With so much hate for one another it seems as though they should have clashed by now. The answer is simple. Each one knows that his hatred for the other is so intense, so fierce, and so pent up that if it were ever unleashed on the other, there would be no way to save his life. Each one also realizes that there is a slight chance that the other is stronger, quicker, more agile, and a better fighter. He may actually lose, which would mean certain death, as the rage in the other's heart is just as fierce as his. They don't fight because they know the consequences would be severe, no matter how the conflict turned out.

Imagine what would happen if one of the boys decided to throw a punch. Another would surely follow. They would have continued beating each other until one of them was annihilated. The friends of the defeated one would retaliate, and the friends of the victor would defend. A massive battle would ensue. Onlookers would gaze in horror at the sight before them.

It started as a fistfight--each kid brutally beating on the other. One kid gets desperate. He's getting beaten. In what seems like slow motion he pulls from his sleeve a short dagger. Another kid sees the glimmer of the blade and pulls a pistol from his bag. In an uncontrolled chain reaction the weapons of war are unleashed. Screams fill the commons area as bystanders scrambled for cover. Many faces are frozen in fear as strays and ricochets zing by their heads. It all started with one punch. A ball of pressure so tight that the slightest jab turned the entire school into a picture of carnage and horror

Now imagine if you will that the two boys are metaphors for two nations. Imagine their cronies are the nations allied with them. The student body is the world's population. The consequences of the brawl are not expulsion or prison terms, but nuclear holocaust. For forty years the whole world held its breath as the United States and the Soviet Union stared each other down. The whole world waited to see who would throw the first punch. This was the Cold War.

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