Entry: The World Will End Next Tuesday Friday, March 26, 2004

Post-Date Your Checks

One of the hardest things that I live with is the knowledge that the fall of civilization is not something that might happen. Unless every single human being individually and collectively undergoes a voluntary transformation to a more sane and sustainable way of living, we're fucked.

A bit drastic, that. And it leads into one of my biggest sticking points with the idea of destroying civilization (and this is less on your expressions Dig, and more on my feelings towards Jensen's writings) the lowest common denominator is all that matters in determining worth, value and redemption. If not everyone, then no one. There are no virtues to offset vices, no redeeming qualities to balance flaws. It sets the influence of abuses and evils higher than that of love and good acts. The way Jensen tells it, there are only extremes: If you support civilization, then you hate life. You may have either perfect sustainability or total annihilation. You're either with us, or you're against us. (Hmmm this is sounding disturbingly familiar. But that's another post.)

Civilization may well be screwed. There is plenty of evidence to support this, and Dig has always been way better at presenting it than I am (which I appreciate; I'm way too busy to make time for much research).

However, civilization, life and the world in general have always either been screwed, or shortly on their way to it. Evidence is growing that life on Earth is drawing towards a sixth major extinction the first that can be blamed primarily on the influence of human activity. Note that the other five cannot. (Even though there are also many questions up as to why sabre-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths disappeared from North America, coincidentally I'm sure, after the arrival of humans from Siberia. Not Europe, mind you, Siberia. As in early aboriginal populations.)

It's All the Same Myth
But that's not the point. The point is apocalypse, a difficult word to spell and an even more difficult event to peg a date to. To the chagrin of fervent devotees around the world and in various faiths, no matter how many invitations they print, the featured event keeps standing us up. The world keeps ticking, yet people always hear from one source or another that it's all about to croak.

The signs come from anywhere. Call it storytelling, mythology, religion, science; do the myths and their conclusions vary much, despite the different observations that go into their construction? Religion used to hold the major sway in thought and the interpretation of natural events; the end of the world would be the will of the divine, be it Yahweh, Allah, Shiva or Gaia. Early apocalyptic Christians were not talking about the events of Revelations as some far-off Dawn of the Dead coming to a 21st century near you. They were talking about next Tuesday.

The sway has changed; now we seek our signs of apocalypse in science and technology. My second-oldest sister, like many others, had the end of the world (or at least the civilized one) pegged for midnight, Jan. 1, 2000 (incidentally, a Sunday). I think she's still polishing off all the spam and dehydrated mashed potatoes she'd stocked up.

Apocalyptic talk has been around probably at least as long as we've been vocal and curious. The world is always about to end, depending on who you talk to. Life is fragile, yet because it is fragile we too often perceive it as always about to break.

It's Not the End of the World As We Know It
One of the hardest things that I live with is the knowledge that the fall of civilization is not something that might happen.

Who knows what will happen. Maybe we'll kill ourselves off. Maybe there will be a return to aboriginal lifestyles. Maybe a meteor will wipe us out the same way it did the dinosaurs, or maybe Jesus will return and we'll all sing hosannas in heaven or ask for more barbecue sauce while roasting on a spit in hell. Maybe we've set off a major extinction event that will wipe out virtually every trace of life on this planet... to leave it barren, empty, and on a scale of eons inconceivable to all our little minds, ready to be populated by entirely new and different funky wee species.

Who knows? I don't, Lolo and Dig don't, Jensen doesn't, and the pastor at my formerly fundamentalist sister's church doesn't. No one does.

People around the world live lives both sustainable and unsustainable, though whatever the hell those 2 words mean, I don't know. I'm even less sure of how to draw up a definition that so much as a herd of cats would agree on, much less the masses of humanity.

But I do know this: Every time the world is supposed to end next Tuesday, there keeps being a next Wednesday. And I, we and all of us will know what will happen, only when it does. Until that time, the rest is up for grabs.


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