My wife doesn't approve of my writing this, but I'm doing it anyway. It shows you how differently two Hare Krsna devotees can view the same situation.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) recently announced a change in its nuclear war emergency plan. The new plan is to build six hundred nuclear bomb shelters across the U.S. between 1988 and 1992, at a cost of 1.5 billion dollars, for the exclusive use of local, state, and federal officials in case of a nuclear war. As a result, you can expect to see a lot of new aspirants for government positions over the next few years.

The old plan called for civilians living near likely nuclear targets to evacuate in orderly fashion along specified routes to safe sites designated by FEMA officials, in half an hour, the amount of time we'll have before the first bombs hit. Logistical difficulties abounded. Can you imagine the orderly evacuation of a city of one million in half an hour? What to speak of New York City's ten million plus?

The new plan is much more practical. Should a nuclear war happen, government officials on all levels will have six hundred shelters to hide in, while the rest of the nation relies on, in FEMA's words, "self-help."

Sensitive to reproof from people who say Hare Krsna devotees hold a morbid, negative outlook, I tried to see some positive aspects of the new plan. I found a few.

For example, certainly a nuclear shoot-out would amount to the biggest national emergency of all time. You wouldn't really expect our leaders to scatter all over the countryside at such a critical time, would you? Under the new plan our leaders can convene and carry out their official functions with hardly any interruption. And after the war, with hale and hearty local, state, and federal officials present, well have considerably less chance of a breakdown in civic decorum, an important consideration after a pitched nuclear battle, when a limited supply of breathable air, drinkable water, and other vital commodities may bring out the worst in people. Imagine the bedlam if we didn't have enough coats to go around for the nuclear winter. To have our elected leaders handle these difficult situations would, no doubt, be a welcome relief.

Now here's the part my wife didn't want me to include: her reaction to my positive outlook. When I told her about my seeing some positive things in the new plan and how I was trying to appreciate its good points, she didn't think I was at all funny.

"I'm not trying to be funny," I said plaintively. "I'm trying to break out of the stigmatized view that Hare Krsna devotees are too negative. Let's see the positive side for a change."

She wasn't interested. "It seems 'self-help' is 1986 Orwellian newspeak for 'every man for himself,'" she blurted, her face flushed with indignation. "What about my son?" (It'll be years before he's old enough for a government post.)

"Well, I can always get a job with the government," I offered, trying to ease the tension.

"What kind of decent job can a Hare Krsna monk get in government?"

"Some say there are no decent jobs in government, but I could look into it. There must be something I can do."

"Don't bother," she sighed wearily. "I think the best we can do in this mad world is pray to Krsna to kindly protect us."

"You have a point there," I agreed. "We shouldn't be in any anxiety: Krsna is our shelter. The people at FEMA don't know it, but He is actually our only shelter from nukes or any other form death may take."