Tuesday, December 4, 2007

How to Survive the End of the World

I always knew it was coming. Since I was a kid, somehow I figured that my generation was going to be the one to live through the height of modern civilization. We were destined to get to the other side and see a long slow steady decline.

Maybe it was all of that nuclear paranoia, or the talk of asteroids. It might be those sci-fi books on biological disasters, or our more recent understanding of our own environmental consequences. One thing is certain, I am convinced that the end is coming soon and fast. I feel kinda like one of those crazies on the street with a picket sign prophesying our impending doom. "The end is nigh", it says. You just can't live through that much anti-propaganda and still remain positive.

I figure that for all of the potential environmental, biological or natural disasters, we're most likely to do it to ourselves. We are overwhelmed by the sheer number of indicators that are leading the way. We feed on fear in the news. The media keeps delivering wave after endless wave of bad news and impending disasters. We've so commoditized everything in our world that even our charity is just another type of business. We can buy our way out of feeling guilty. Our physical and emotional health are products. Pills and couches are available to get you back into working order. We've completely lost control of our own infrastructure. We can build it, but we can't maintain it. Our technology has completely outgrown the average man. Most people have no idea how most of the common daily used items in their lives actually work. Few people on the planet know even a fraction of how the whole thing runs. If we ever lost the right 5%, the rest would just stand around, completely helpless.

Even worse, our politeness and our civility get less and less as we get more and more. Our dense living is making for dense and often extremely rude people. Moral degradation -- while it might be fun, and sometimes liberating -- still seems to be a symptom of other much larger problems. If just few were doing it, it might be fine, but when it becomes common place we need to be more than a little worried.

The growing religious fanaticism is another strong indicator of serious trouble. When people quote dogma as an excuse to deny normal behavior or condemn it, we set in motion bad things. Religion wields a dangerous amount of power; used carelessly it can cause catastrophic events. It makes asteroids look tame by comparison. What makes it so scary is how easily the wrong people seem to be able to get control of it. It's like leaving a loaded hand gun on a public sidewalk.

People are drawn to sports and fashion during times of cultural crisis, preferring to bury their heads in a friendly entertaining sand box. Sports for the men and fashion for the women are the junk food of our combined global cultural heritages. The more money that flows into these past times, the more likely we are to be avoiding the real issues in our lives.

As we get more overcrowded, more people bump into one another, buying, selling and spewing propaganda at an ever increasing rate. They flow around the rules, decaying and demobilizing all in their path. We are out of control, running head-long into an unknown future fraught with self-inflicted sufferings.

Hope, or at least a temporary reprieve from our failings comes only in the form of some hard to swallow growing-up that we need to do collectively. The real trouble: our own greed and selfishness are eating away at our social fabric. People looking for the 'quick' payoff play the legal system as a lottery. People looking for an 'easy' payoff play the political system as if it were a contest. People looking for a 'big' payoff play the business world as if it were just another board game.

People just keep looking for those things that are cheap and easy, irrespective of whoever it is that is stuck with the consequences of their actions. Who cares how many people you've harmed if you can hide out in your mansion? A Rolls Royce is the perfect antidote to bad karma, some foolish people believe.

From those annoying goofs that block the exit doors on the subway car because 'they' need a place to stand but they don't feel like moving out of everyone else's way to that executive that helps himself to everyone else's money because no one feels like they have the power to say 'no', these people are the people that will bring us all down with them. We are -- we so often find -- totally as weak as our weakest link. And these days it seems as if it is a contest to see who can hit a new low point. Just like a bad reality TV series.

I figured it was coming; the end that is. Or at least the beginning of the downfall of this version of modern society. As Pete Seeger borrowed from a well-known verse: "to everything there is a season" and we all known that every season has to end sometime. Thus it's not hard to guess that the end of our collective summer holidays will come; it is just a matter of when.

I doubt I'll be shocked if or when things turn for the worse. Like an expected birthday gift, maybe I'll feign surprise when it happens just to make it more interesting to the people around me. Then again, saying "I told you so" a bunch of times could be fun too. At least it will help pass the time, as we all wounder around stunned foolishly waiting for things to get better. The trick is to occupy your time and not think about it, that way the end won't seem nearly as long.


  1. Yeah,its weird watching it happen.But I guess its no different from looking in the mirror and realising little time is all you ever had no matter what happens.Although,put God in the equation and we got a whole different ballgame.Other than that-f**k it.

  2. The problem with putting God into the equation is that it gives one the excuse to no longer pay attention. "Faith" is a nice way of preventing one from seeking answers. "Don't worry about that, it's his problem ..." they like to say.


  3. I know what you mean by that feeling of being part of a generation that will see the end. The earth is moving into a very unstable part of the galaxy, quite frankly our solar system itself is on its way into an area of severe gravitation pull from the center of the galaxy. I always felt since I was young enough to conceptualize space, science, religion, that our generation will see something that no one has seen before. The mayan calender ends in 2012, or at least it is a time of great change. I fear the end is closer than we think. But on the lighter side, how cool would it be to see a massive tsunami bigger than any mountain. Man, what a way to go out! Beats a heart attack, or cancer any day!!!!!

  4. Hi Mwelch990,

    Thanks for the comment. A big ending is cool and all, but it definitely loses some of its entertainment value if there is no one left around to appreciate your stories later ...


  5. meh, humans can and will do what they will.
    i don't care, i'm prepared!
    just read this thing cover to cover and go out and practice a bunch, and you'll be better off than the vast vast majority.

  6. It seems that others share your concern: http://bookymonkey.appspot.com/2009/07/how-can-you-survive-the-end-of-the-world

  7. like most,,, & for good reason, all they see is the world on a one-way spiral. Involving Religion, and their God -_ definitely does shy, for good reason, many people, away form actually obtaining all the answers,,, which are available now (since the end will arrive, most definitely, within my life time [I'm 30]) that could make people truly understand, just how crucial,are the decisions we make at present.- because of what lies shortly ahead, not excluding understanding the unjarrability of what is going to happen,,, as well as, and more importantly WHY?! -this would though, involve giving chance to a book that has been castigated for the better part of 2 Millenniums. 5 years ago i saw this statement on the back of a T-Shirt, "wisdom is gained by gaining knowledge" "knowledge is gained, by letting go, of what you think,, you know", if anyone listening is willing to principally apply,, to their thought, something called "intellectual, honestly", it being characterized by a willing to scrutinize what one believes to be true,, and to pay sufficient attention, to other evidence available" then i, would give of my time to help whoever, to come to understand the same truths i do. [and Paul,, you're not off the beaten track] I'm certain i could supply that person, whoever, with the "subject matter" needed, for anyone to be able to draw the right conclusions. my email is just4txt@webmail.co.za -_ point being.. . you can, with unfailing, certainty, survive not only the end of the world. .. -it's in your ball court, .michael.