Doomsday prophecies are nothing new.
Your parents lived through instructional videos about what to do when the Russians nuked us. Duck and cover! There does seem to be an increase, however, in the number of alarms, not all of which turn out to be quite so severe. Remember the Y2K calamity? Me neither.
Lately, we braced ourselves because of a Mayan calendar, and now North Korea is threatening us with nuclear holocaust. To which I say, bring it. All you can reach with your missiles is California or Seattle, and by then we will have cleansed the earth of your despotism. Seems like a favorable exchange.
Our media celebrate the prospect of apocalypse, and I don’t mean the nightly news. I mean computer games and television shows about zombies running amok. Or should I say staggering amok, because they rarely if ever seem to be capable of actually running. Might be the shoes.
(Note to self: Market running shoes for zombies. Approach Angelina Jolie to be the spokes-model. But I digress.)
My kids know everything you need to do to ward off zombies. “Why don’t you simply outrun them?” I ask. “Oh, dad,” they explain. It wasn’t so long ago, one of my kids took a weapon to bed after watching a horror movie. Needless to say, I didn’t creep into the bedroom to kiss him goodnight.
Why this proliferation of disaster scenarios? What does it do for us psychologically? Sadly, it does force us to contemplate the worst-case scenario. We cannot dismiss the risk entirely, inasmuch as the twentieth century did deliver some pretty devastating examples of genocide, war, and civil unrest. We cannot teach our children about our past without alerting them to the implicit message: it could happen again. It could happen here.
So we get movies such as “Red Dawn” and television series such as “Jericho” to play out the possibilities. Suppose we are bombed and invaded. What would that look like in Amerika (which was another mini-series)? I read an account by a survivor of Bosnia that emphasized hoarding batteries. The media prefers gunplay. Two guys standing behind the barn trading cigarettes for batteries doesn’t make for riveting broadcasts.
The thing is, every night the world ends for somebody. Every night, neighbors suffer abuse and injury and degradation. Not all of them, of course. We may not be living through the imminent collapse of civilization, but unspeakable things are happening in our midst. Civilization lapses just about every weekend somewhere.
Prison rape, white slavery, bullying, infanticide, honor killings; our plate is full.
We can wallow in worry, on the one hand, posting alarms on Facebook; or we can mock the prospects of anything big going wrong, on the other. Maybe the prudent course is to take the threat seriously, even of slight disruptions. We can do things concretely to serve the forces of civilization. We may never completely ward off the end times, foretold in scriptures, but we can testify through our actions whose side we’re on. Eyes open, hearts full, in harness for the Good. And, okay, maybe a pair of good running shoes handy, just in case.
Doomsday prophecies are nothing new.
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