Last night I saw a tweet in which the author admitted that she was actually a little excited about the prospect of a “zombie apocalypse.” It reminded me of something our oldest boy said, about a year ago. After watching Back To The Future he commented, “it seems a little sad that people in the 80’s looked forward to a future of flying cars and clean-burning garbage-fusion and now, when we look to the future, we just see the end of the world.”
I had to wonder why our perspective has changed so much in the past generation.
There are bad things these days – school shootings and tough economic times and so forth. But every generation faces their challenges. When I was little we feared invasion from the Russian army. My children’s generation is more frightened of the idea of a “mass shooter.” My grandparents, a young married couple in the pre-WWII era, would look at our “tough economic times” and call us whiners. I think the folks who worshiped in fear of being tossed to the lions and those who tossed their dead on plague wagons probably felt pretty strongly that times were tough in their day, too.
There are good things these days. There has never been more information in the hands of more people. It’s easier than ever to keep in touch with one another. We have sound treatments for diseases that were considered a death sentence just a generation ago. Much of the world’s population has access to running water and deodorant. I’m a big fan of living in the age of reduced B.O.!
I have to think that what has changed is our perception of where the current “norms” are leading us. 30 years ago we looked at the explosion of new technology being developed and marketed and we saw endless possibilities. Clean energy! Abundant food! Extraordinary advances in healthcare!
Today we see that, for various reasons – be they scientific, political or monetary – much of what we hoped for is not coming to pass and we can’t imagine that it will. Big oil and coal have largely suppressed the development of truly marketable clean energy. There is plenty of food but we can’t seem to get it into the hands of the hungry. Advances in the science of growing even more food have been met with massive controversy over health effects and environmental safety. People are experiencing unexplained chronic illness at a rate unheard of by previous generations while drug companies are focusing more resources on drugs to enhance our sex lives than finding a cure for cancer.
I think that such things sap our hope for a bright, shiny tomorrow where cool kids wear their pants inside out and ride to school on hover boards.
The glimpses of hope we see are often in things like an increase in the number of community gardens – spaces where people learn to provide for themselves and care for their neighbors. We see families coming together to find real solutions to local issues of poverty, crime, and lack of access to quality education. There are those advocating for a more holistic approach to wellness, fighting for equal rights for all persons and celebrating the creativity of the human spirit.
Now, consider a TV show like, “Revolution.” Before the lights went out people were living as we do today. Afterward they live in small communities where they grow their own food, care for their neighbors, fight crime and injustice together and so on…
Of course… there’s the whole issue of murdering, raping, thieving bands of militant maniacs roaming the countryside and blowing up entire chunks of the nation but… well… we’ll just set that aside for today.
I wonder if, on some level, we are coming to long for an “apocalyptic” scenario because we see ourselves as hopelessly mired in a massive, badly broken system and the only way we can imagine getting out is by the total collapse of society. Once the slate is “wiped clean” we would be free to start fresh. Kind of like declaring bankruptcy for the entire human race. There would be serious consequences to deal with but maybe we’re coming to think those consequences would be preferable to what we’ll face without some kind of massive change.
All of this is just one Hippie Mama, pondering things that are really too large in scope for my puny brain to wrap itself around in any real, comprehensive way, but it makes me curious to know your thoughts:
What do you think?
Do people actually look forward to a coming “apocalypse?”
Can real change happen without major catastrophe?
Is the path our society is on sustainable for the long-term?
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!