The World That Didn’t End

Wild flowers blooming. The earth is more resilient than we credit it for.

I remember March 10, 1982.  I was 14 years old, sitting in class and waiting to die.  A periodical I had read some days earlier informed me that the world was ending THAT day.  I didn’t want to go to school because facing termination with my family was much more comforting than facing termination alone, but I went to school anyway.  In class, my attention drifted between the teachers, who appeared clueless that the world was about to end, and the anticipation of a loud bang, a dimming sun or quaking floor.  No excitement happened, the end didn’t arrive.  I was a little disappointed that the day was boring as ever, but mostly relieved that every person who mattered to me was still alive!  I now know that the ending of the world on March 10, 1982 was prophecised in a book titled The Jupiter Effect.

Back then, my idea of an apocalyse was simple.  I knew exactly how The End Of The World would take place because Skeeta Davis had presented it to me in a song that had been playing in my home since my parents bought her album:  the sun would stop shining and the sea would stop rushing to shore.  Star Wars was barely in its second installment and sophisticated visual effects of movies had only begun to mess with my imagination.  Watch the original Star Wars movies before they were digitally remastered and you’ll get an idea of how far the movie industry has come.

18 year after my first apocalypse came Y2K, the idea that the world would be in chaos when the date changed from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000.  Because computer dating systems might not recognise the year rolling over from ’99 to ’00, planes might crash, bank accounts might disappear and factories might explode.  I must admit that I wasn’t completely at ease on December 31, 1999 because the cases proposed by the apocalypticists sounded legitimate.  Was I relieved when I heard the news that some nations had crossed over safely to January 1, 2000?  Yes.

Next came 2012, the doomsday that was anecdotally written about in an ancient calendar.  The prophesied event was even dramatised in a Hollywood blockbuster movie and presented as a far more frightening catastrophe than the 14-year-old me had imagined in 1982.  I didn’t have time to follow much of this story, but before I knew it, 2013 arrived.

Then came doomsday 23 September 2017, a date calculated from another ancient source.  You can guess the outcome of that prophecy too.

Which brings us to the important question:  Is the world coming to an end?  If so, when will that happen and how will we know?  Once again, somebody somewhere appears to knows exactly how and approximately when this will take place because children these days are taught that the earth is getting warmer and that its end is imminent if no action is taken to put a halt to its rising temperature!  According to them, although nothing can be done to stop the warming, many things can be done to slow it down.  The idea even has a name which isn’t worth mentioning here because the experts haven’t made up their minds about what to call it.

As a reformed doomsday junkie with the benefit of hindsight, I can identify many differences between the apocalyptic message I read about in 1982 and that which many children are taught in this generation.  Here are some:

  • The source of the message in 1982 was in the free market. I consumed the information at my free will.  It wasn’t fed to me by my school curriculum or class discussion.
  • I wasn’t made to feel guilty or bad for my view if it differed with the position held by the majority.  If I had to defend my view, I would have crumbled for the lack of maturity and the necessary vocabulary and confidence to articulate, and since my thoughts on the subject were planted in me by the media and spiced up by my teenaged hormones,  my defence would not have been worth much.
  • No prescribed response accompanied that piece of news in 1982, thus  no one was under social pressure to take, or not take, any action. In that sense, it was merely a harmless spook for most people.  However, the apocalyptic narrative that is told to the present generation of children requires nations to take real actions to mitigate an imaginary calamity made up of the collective imagination of movie producers and fiction writers.  Since it has never happened before, experts have to build mathematical models to predict the magnitude of imaginary repurcussions.  Then comes the real thing!  Other experts have to be engaged to draw up plans for real actions to prevent this imaginary problem.  Real actions cost real money.  Given that the people who believe the present apocalyptic prophecies are matured high ranking politicians (instead of a gullible 14-year-old) possessing spending power to purchase hope, hope has become a lucrative industry.  Let’s not talk about who’s money they are spending.  I invite you to read this comic piece I wrote explaining this agenda-problem-solution triad.
  • Unlike previous poorly funded apocalyptic messages that bore definite termination dates, this modern message is timeless and rich with funding.  It is timeless because the prophets haven’t made up their minds regarding when the earth would get so warm that we would all perish by roasting, either at the same time or in turns by geographic location.  There were also suggestions that some people would freeze while others roast.  Extending that logic to the tiny sea-level island of  Singapore, I suppose we would likely drown, boil or steam.  Ha!

Apocalyptic prophecies are not new.  Ancient Mayan and Jewish writings reveal that people centuries ago thought the earth would reset in their generation as well.  Many modern day Christians still believe in the impending Day when they will stand before their Judge to give an account of their lives on earth.  The Chinese, on the other hand, do not have such ideas embeded in their traditions, at least not to my knowledge.

What are your thoughts about apocalyptic prophecies?  Do you think the earth is getting warmer?  Will it come to an end?  Does your child believe that the earth will end in his lifetime?  Is he afraid or confused?  If the end was happening tomorrow, would he live wrecklessly or meaningfully today? 

Have a conversation with your child about this subject.  If your child is 5-year or older, he would have been sufficiently bombarded by commercials, school and passing conversations to have a rough idea of this topic.  Kids are clever.   Address his concerns, share your opinion and offer hope.  It’s fine to say that you don’t have an answer.  Help him see that even smart adults don’t know it all.  If you fail to engage your child in this conversation and provide necessary filters, the media is happy to educate your child with their propaganda and he will have to derive sense out of possible nonsense on his own.  A gentle nudge to you that the apocalyptic message is usually depressing and hopeless, not a healthy thought for a child to ponder over.

So, do I believe that the earth is warming?  Of course not!  How can the earth be warming if hot air rises, heat gain equals heat loss, and if we lived in an enclosed dome? Yes, a closed terrarium, a geocentric earth or whatever you wish to call it!  Ha!  You’ll have to figure my logic out for yourself, and you don’t have to agree with me.  My 17-year-old son and I are still debating this after many years.  We are allowed to change our minds and positions anytime we like, no one is required to be locked into a single position.  Challenging the status quo does exercise our thinking and observation skills.  Some people call it nonsense talk,  but I prefer to call it a continuous fun-filled conversation!

Happy Parenting!  💐

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