September 9th, 2005 07:12 EST
Omnium Finis Imminet
As mortal beings, thoughts of our mortality haunt most of us at some point.
Like the concept of God, end of the world scenarios are archetypal, entrenched in our collective unconscious, and are, therefore, a fundamental human concern. The End Of The World conceptualization is part of our cultural psychology and mythology. Virtually every society has eschatological (end of the world) imagery, both spiritual and secular, depicting " and even predicting " the end of the world. We realize that reality is cyclical and that all things end, in some way, in some form. Change is (paradoxically) constant, a natural law; everything is alterable, fluctuating and transitory. Permanence is an illusion.
It isn`t a question of if things will end, but when.
So we anticipate the eventuality and possibility of an ending, even if not necessarily THE end, at least concerning the end of the world as we know it.
Predominately Judeo-Christian influenced cultures have their versions and interpretations of the end times as portrayed in millennial prophecy, illustrated in the Christian bible through The Revelation of St. John; a.k.a.- Revelations. Secular and spiritual observations seem to indicate that the end of the world could be imminent, in progress.
The world does, now, seem to be suffering many stressful and distressing trials and tribulations. Common belief construed that this text foretells that the end of the world would occur at or around the millennium, 2000 A.D. As the year 2000 approached, many people across the globe " whether Christian or not-- wondered and were anxious about potential millennial chaos " the possibility, if not the certainty, of it.
They paused a moment to consider their fears and hopes for the future, because they anticipated some manifestation of the end of the world.
When that didn`t happen, they generally assumed that the apocalypse must have been avoided; perhaps it was all just an allegory, a grand hoax, a foolish delusion. Disappointed and relieved, they dismissed and downplayed it as an embarrassing social blunder " pretending that nothing happened. For, indeed, nothing had. They apparently got all excited over nothing.
Mankind returned to their regularly scheduled programming, drudging with the status quo as usual, as if their hopes and fears about the future now meant nothing. And so nothing changed. Not for the better, anyway. Incentive was lost.
They stopped waiting. They stopped worrying. No one cared.
However, everyone and everything is caught in the momentum of history, pushed by the past and pulled by the future. For all we know, our historical momentum could be carrying us all, at this very moment, inexorably into some kind of cataclysm and collapse. The end may still be near. Indeed, an entropy caused by our atrophy and apathy may already be underway.
There is plenty of evidence in the prevailing signs of the times continuing to suggest that potential catastrophic failure hasn`t been completely averted, just postponed. An escape from the fall of man can only be accomplished if/ when mankind achieves its potential for greatness.
What if mankind only succeeded in delaying the inevitable? What if we are actually still in the end of days? What if the end times are still developing, and have yet to be fulfilled? What if we are already in the midst of the world`s end?
And what if we are not?
Most millennial predictions expected Armageddon to arrive suddenly, fully formed and obvious. What if, instead, the Apocalypse revealed itself by way of the boiling frog syndrome "? According to this metaphor, if you put a frog in boiling water it will immediately notice the danger and try to escape. But if you put the frog in cool water and gradually increase the heat, the frog will cook to death because it slowly adapts to the subtle changes in temperature, not realizing it`s boiling. People, as individuals and as a society, respond much the same way to stimuli " whether physical, psychological or social. I suspect that the end of the world, in whatever form it ultimately manifests, if it does manifest, will sneak up on us by appearing as normal, usual, standard operating procedure. It will almost certainly seem " at least until the critical moment-- as nothing more than another aspect of the way of things. Another day in the life. Probably, and hopefully, immanentizing the eschaton (bringing about the end) won`t be so much as a definitive and conclusive end for humanity & the planet as it will be a transition and transformation, ultimately for the better. We might even recognize it for what it is/ was only in hindsight.
And the sounding of it`s klaxon will be either our wake up call denoting clearly that we must shift our paradigm if we want to not just survive but thrive " or it will be a death knell signifying that our revelation has come too late for us to prevent devastation. We will need to change our ways before or-- assuming we don`t irrevocably perish in this event " after things finally go horribly and undeniably wrong.
Essentially, end of the world impressions, narratives and conjecture should serve as a caveat for humanity to be careful, and vigilant against initiating an apocalypse of our own creation.
Even in 2005, there are stories and dialogs continuing to emerge regarding the end of the world. Fascination and apprehension may have decreased somewhat, at least consciously, but have not entirely gone away; on some level the matter is not quite resolved.
Could it be that the climax of the culmination of our history is yet nigh?