The Christians are convinced Jesus is coming back soon.
The conspiracy theorists are convinced the end of civilization is at hand. Maybe it’s a nuclear holocaust, or a massive economic failure, or we’ll just wreck the environment.
The rest of us are certain we’re on the cusp of a zombie apocalypse.
And there is no shortage of advice on how to prepare for whatever end of the world scenario you are anticipating. You can build bomb shelters, outfit yourself with weapons, or stock up with a two year supply of food and water.
We’re all certain the world will end, one way or another. It’s going to be scary. You have to be prepared. Google “end of the world.” You will get over 3 billion results.
You know what I think everyone is secretly more afraid of?
The world not ending. How do you survive that?
When the World Ends, You’ll Know It
The one thing every conceivable end of the world scenario has in common is that it’s catastrophic.
It happens. There will be a date and time that the world ends. And you have to be prepared for that moment. All hell will break loose. There will be looting and rioting. You have to know how to stay alive when the world is upended.
The thing is, the world has “ended” plenty of times. Rome ruled the world…until it fell apart. Economies have collapsed. Governments have failed. Ice Ages have crushed continents.
And it almost never happens in a quick death blow. It’s almost never catastrophic. There’s almost always a long lead-up to some calamity. Christians since the first century have thought Jesus was coming back soon. “Soon” has turned out to be quite a while. Prophets like Glenn Beck have been saying that we are a hair’s breadth from “the edge.” Looks like “the edge” is pretty wide and rather gently sloping.
I don’t think we are predicting the end of the world any more. We’re fantasizing about it. We think of “worst case scenarios,” and how we would hypothetically survive them.
We do this because contemplating how to survive the status quo is actually a lot scarier. In an end of the world fantasy, you know what you’re up against. It actually starts to sound like fun, maybe like a game. How would you out-maneuver a nuclear strike? It’s an escapism that allows us to forget about the now that we’re struggling to survive. It’s the status quo that we feel woefully ill-equipped to survive, while we stock up on water purification and freeze dried food for the apocalypse that may never happen.
We’re also lusting for some kind of end of the world, because it at least sounds adventurous. Deep down, some of us just can’t believe that this is all there is to life. Surviving bills and debt, surviving boredom at work. Surviving the ruts of marriage. Surviving church. Surviving capitalism and corrupt politicians. Zombies just sound like a lot more fun to think about having to outwit than anything we actually face.
Surviving the the Status Quo
The best thing about the end of the world?
At least it brings the status quo to an end.
The status quo is that thing we live with every day, that thing that we hate. The thing we face every day, with no end in sight. The status quo goes indefinitely into the future, and we can only imagine that it will only get worse, and the prospect of the apocalypse at least makes it stop.
The thing is, the status quo always continues. No matter how many economies or governments fall, or how many wars or diseases break out, life goes on.
Even if you best worst-case scenario came true, life would go on. Better get equipped to survive today. Stop fantasizing about how zombies or Jesus’ return might release you from your status quo.
What do you think? Has the end of the world become a fantasy? A means of escaping the status quo? What’s your end of the world scenario?