I’ve been touching on this, now and again, in recent posts here on this global communications colossus. The world, and especially this holy land, are in the deepest of funks.
Climate change is going to (pick one): burn us, flood us, starve us, drought us, or otherwise somehow whack the bejesus out of us until we and every other Earthly species, including Republicans, are wiped out.
Or, millions and millions of abortions are going to pare the population of Homo sapiens down to a scant few thousand.
Or, the Christian Taliban is poised to force every female human of reproductive age to bear as many children as possible.
Or, the war in Ukraine — or any spat between belligerents on this globe — will get out of hand and one side will resort to flinging nukes at the other, with the whole thing getting out of hand and engulfing the planet.
Or, a comet or asteroid surely will collide with the Earth, wiping us out ala the dinosaurs 165 million years ago. (See note at the end of the post.)
Or, either the Democrats or Republicans are engineering the End of Western Civilization.
Or…, or…, or…. See? There are countless dystopic scenarios the lot of us are fixating on in this year of somebody’s lord, 2022.
We’re all waiting for the next shoe to drop. We’re all — let’s face it — no better than that doomsday cult back in 1978, the Jim Jones gang, that was certain the Earth was about to be snuffed out so hundreds of its members sipped poison-laced Kool-Aid and beat the rest of us to oblivion. Or the Mayans, whose calendar technicians worked out the exact date of the end of the Earth: December 21, 2012. Or David Koresh’s Branch Davidians. Or that Heaven’s Gate bunch back in 1997 who committed mass suicide so they could escape this doomed globe.
Or…, or…, or…. See? There’ve been countless individuals and groups fixated on The End.
Humans are the only species, as far as we can determine, that has an awareness of finity. (Merriam-Webster and other authorities seem to disagree with me vis à vis the existence of the word finity.) Every once in a while, throughout history, large numbers of people have come to agree that our collective finiteness was just around the corner. The global human zeitgeist of this age is simply another manifestation of that bad habit.
Make no mistake, we face some mighty challenges over the next few years/decades/centuries. For all we know, our actions today or tomorrow, and those we’ve undertaken in the past, may well mean curtains for scads of us. Book it: our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all the rest of our progeny had better learn to breathe a fossil-fuel-fouled air and batten down the hatches against mega-hurricanes. Don’t even get me started on viruses, both extant and fixing to come into being.
So I’m not a Pollyanna.
But I’m not buying into the doom.
Having been raised a Roman Catholic (and quitting that gang as soon as I reached the age of reason) I can attest that one of the good things arising from that belief system was explicated during a sermon I heard back in the late 1990s when, in the depths of gloom I resorted to attending Sunday mass for a few weeks. The priest that Sunday said, “We’re here on this Earth to love and to hope.” It was an epiphany for me.
There’s no point in going on if we’re not hoping and loving. That simple line was so beautiful, so touching, so appropriate at that moment that I’ve never forgotten it. I remember what the weather was that Sunday, what I was wearing, how many people were in the church, how just hearing those words was a first step for me to begin climbing out of what had been a psychological and emotional hell.
We’re here on this Earth to love and to hope.
For all I know, that priest might by now have been defrocked for not rapping his parishioners over the knuckles for even thinking of the word abortion or not embracing the tenet that all that counts in this world is to praise and worship Jesus and all his bandmates.
That line sounds like something a Unitarian Universalist preacher might deliver. Or some other cleric of an equally subversive faith.
If the priests and nuns I’d grown up with had stressed that love and hope angle, I might have hung around longer. But when I hit the age of 12 and started figuring this whole god idea seemed awfully dubious, I bolted.
Anyway, hoping specifically seems today to be the most quaint of ideas. Nobody hopes anymore. How old fashioned. How 20th century!
But we have to hope. I have to hope.
If we don’t hope, our actions and behaviors will be tainted. We won’t take drastic actions to stave off the coming fires, floods, mega-hurricanes, millions of abortions, forced pregnancies, and other inconveniences everybody seems to be obsessed with now.
I want to turn on the news or flip open the paper and see a story about…, well, something good. Something like the deploying of the Webb Space Telescope, which over the last few months has inspired me and those who might tend to be open to inspiration. But too many of us are not and the news reflects that. All we hear about are racism, misogyny, war, fire, drought, mega-hurricanes and the rest.
There’s something more.