Rod Miller: Notes on the Apocalypse

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Something is happening and it’s not good. I can smell it, just on the horizon. I can’t see it yet, or shoot it, but it’s there. And his head that way.

You feel it too, don’t lie to yourself. You feel it when you whistle past the graveyard and something whistles back. You feel it as that icy shiver down your spine as you balance your checkbook.

The hair on the nape of humanity stands on end because we can all feel it. Whether we recognize it or not, we all feel it.

It manifests itself in the way the world behaves today. Suspicious and fearful of each other and nervous about food, water and electrons, we fill our tanks and wonder how much will be left for tomorrow. We go to war for crumbs.

Without useful tools, we resort to politics. Because we distrust our own wisdom, we rely on our emotions and superstitions. Nothing seems to work anymore and we have become children scared of nuclear weapons.

Like lab rats left to breed unchecked in a cage with limited resources, we rise away from the dinner table and toward a messy end. We got stuck between the laws of exponential growth and diminishing returns.

There are too many of us and not enough of everything for everyone. So we covet, hoard and consume what is in front of us, just so no one else can get it.

And to justify our self-destructive behavior, we put words in God’s mouth. Even if our own children are hungry, we praise the generosity of others who have overflowing granaries and treasuries. We sanctify greed as a virtue, and call it the Will of God, because of our own desire to have it ourselves.

But read the scriptures – be it the Bible, the Quran, the Upanishads, or any other holy book that blows your skirt – and you’ll find that our little experiment as carbon-based units here on Earth has a date of expiration. Choose your apocalypse. It is written.

Along with the universal scriptural admonitions to humility, morality, and stewardship of the earth, there are the universal scriptural warnings that all will crumble in time. It’s as if the deities know more about us than we give them credit for.

My favorite scene in Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men” has two crisp rural Texas sheriffs lamenting drug-related violence along the border and the breakdown of order. One of them says: “It started when we stopped hearing ‘Monsieur’ and ‘Madame’”.

William Butler Yeats skins the same cat in the opening of “Second Coming” when he writes: “Spinning and spinning in the widening gyre/ The falcon can’t hear the falconer/ Things fall apart/ The center can’t hold / simple anarchy is unleashed upon the world.”

So it’s not like we weren’t warned. But we ignore the warnings and exile the prophets as we return our attention to Fat City.

What are we waiting for? Do we believe that a benevolent god will excuse our childish waste of our gift and keep us from killing ourselves just for praying? Do we have candy cane fantasies of a new earthly garden lovingly showing up after we’ve turned this one into a landfill?

What we see around us today are the “signs and wonders” that the incomprehensible is finally here. Things won’t go well no matter how much we keep our fingers crossed. The Great Adios is coming.

It feels like all of humanity is in a frantic race to meet him, laughing behind the wheel like it’s some kind of cosmic game of chicken. Say, “Hold my beer.”

I wish I had better news, but that’s not the case. All I can muster is the idea that there has to be some kind of groove on the other side and a healthy curiosity to discover.

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