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Marching against calamity

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A calendar in the Village Voice, titled ''Making Peace Happen; A Calendar for Survival,'' lists in a four-week period 49 events around New York City, dealing in one way or another with the prospect of nuclear holocaust. The announcements describing the meetings pretty much say it all:

''Nuclear War: What's in It for You?''

''Effects of Nuclear War on Children''

''Nuclear Arms Negotiation: Where Do We Go From Here?''

The famous quote by Admiral Hyman Rickover is centered among the listings: ''I think we'll probably destroy ourselves, so what difference will it make? Some new species will come up that might be wiser.''

Nobody can open up a newspaper or magazine or snap on a television set without, sooner or later, encountering the newly obsessive subject.

At a Harvard conference on ''The International Style in Architecture,'' Lewis Mumford, the brilliant cultural historian, abandoned his assigned theme to declare: ''I believe we are in the deepest crisis mankind has ever faced. We don't know whether we can survive the immense forces we have created . . . so let us pray.''

Even the Boston Marathon could not divert attention from the motif of ''Ground Zero'' - that precise spot where a nuclear bomb would land and spread out its flowering destruction. Broadsides were passed out along the 26-mile route, detailing the fire effect at specified points if a nuclear bomb were to be dropped on the finish line.

Dread of a nuclear war is taking over all our other apprehensions for the time being. Bulletins from Concerned Scientists -- and concerned physicians and concerned businessmen -- stuff one's mailbox. Every day, it seems, another town meeting or another state legislature endorses a policy of nuclear freeze, and nobody says, ''It's none of your business.''

People who don't read books are reading Jonathan Schell's ''The Fate of the Earth'' -- a little volume that promises to have as great an influence as John Hersey's ''Hiroshima'' three and a half decades ago.

People who don't go to movies are watching on screens in churches and town halls and elsewhere nuclear-holocaust films like ''War Without Winners,'' ''The Last Epidemic,'' and ''War at Home.''

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