Given the merciless brutality of the German and Japanese conquerors, there was a question whether anything would survive that could be called civilization.
The postwar world quickly became a Cold War world, as Communist conquests around the world replaced Nazi and Japanese conquests. Communists slaughtered even more millions of innocent civilians than died in Hitler's Holocaust but they were never condemned as much by the intelligentsia.
The Cold War did not see as many military battles but the terrible shadow of nuclear annihilation hung heavy over the world.
Like the Nazis and the Japanese before them, the Communists looked invincible in Europe and Asia. When Ronald Reagan said that we were seeing the last chapter of Communism, the intelligentsia regarded this as proof that the man was stupid. Nor did they change their minds when events proved him right.
All the dark and ominous times that this country and the world have passed through and overcome in the past 75 years make it hard to despair, even in the face of growing signs of internal degeneracy today. Pessimism, yes. Despair, not yet.
In my personal life, I can remember a time when our family had no such frills as electricity, central heating, or hot running water.
Even after we left the poverty-stricken Jim Crow South and moved to a new life in Harlem, I can remember at the age of nine seeing a public library for the first time and having to have a young friend explain to me patiently what a public library was.
There is much to complain about today and to fear for the future of our children and our country. But despair? Not yet.
We have all come through too much for that.