The world didn’t end last weekend. If you’re reading this, you’ve dodged the apocalypse yet again.
September 23 came and went and you, like me, still have to pay your bills, walk your dog, and fold your laundry. That Saturday was the date David Meade, a self-proclaimed prophet, claimed our world would end. Additionally, a Christian Web site also marked the 23rd as the beginning of the end, and combined with all the unhinged vloggers predicting doomsday on YouTube, there was a widespread belief that it was a possibility to be feared.
The predictions were based on some pretty sound calculations, you might expect. Meade, for instance, based his hypothesis around the number 33. September 23 was 33 days after the solar eclipse (had we known it was ushering in the Rapture, we might not have been so interested in it). What’s more, he believed that a mysterious planet called Nibiru was on a collision course with Earth, despite the repeated assertions by NASA that no such planet exists. With such irrefutable math in play, it’s not hard to understand why people believed the end was nigh. I’m surprised we came out unscathed, what with Nibiru’s trajectory.
I have a hard time keeping my eye rolls in check when it comes to topics like this. I’m not buying it, sorry. I spent doomsday in my basement airing out hockey gear, a job that feels quite similar to the end of the world, aromatically.
Predictions of The End are hardly new. In my not-quite-40 years, I’ve lived (and laughed) through a few unfounded prophesies. I remember how the world held its collective breath on December 31, 1999, waiting for society to collapse or the planet to explode or some other such disaster. Y2K didn’t deliver, though, despite all the press it got beforehand.
There was another one in 2011, when a Christian evangelist convinced his followers to sell all their worldly possessions so they could afford to live out the rest of their days spreading the word about the end of time. I think there was another one around this time, as well, something about four eclipses or a blood moon or something. (I suppose I should have paid more attention, the devil is in the details.)
And who could forget all the handwringing back in December 2012, when someone interpreted the Mayan calendar to say it was spelling out Armageddon, causing an embarrassing percentage of the population to believe they might not wake up in the morning. Yet, nothing happened. Apparently, Judgment Day keeps getting postponed, no matter how frequently somebody forecasts it.
Granted, these apocalypse predictions, silly as they seem on their face, aren’t as easily dismissed nowadays, considering the state of the world. Many people I know have had to stop watching and listening to the news because of the various scenes and descriptions of devastation — earthquakes in Mexico, wildfires in the west, monster hurricanes wiping out whole countries, terrorist attacks, genocide the world over, and the threat of nuclear war, to just scratch the surface.
Even the most even-keeled among us are rattled, because it makes you wonder: why so many catastrophes all at once? Years ago, disasters seemed to be spaced out with years in between, making them easy to remember because of their rarity and severity. In the past half-decade, however, it seems like it’s one disaster after another. I’ll admit, even those skeptical of doomsday predictions, like me, have the occasional moment of weakness (I may or may not have done some Google research about apocalypse-related topics after Donald Trump was elected).
If there is any value in these ridiculous prophesies, it is in the perspective gained in the days leading up to each instance of The End. While some people might be out buying a year’s supply of water and batteries before retreating to their bunker, some others likely take a moment to stand back and see what an incredible thing we’ve built here on Planet Earth. Hopefully, those people realize that, more than renegade meteors and species harvesting by aliens, we’re the ones to be feared.
By and large, it is humans who control the state of the world, and the biggest things to fear are preventable.