Friday, May 18, 2012

What Would You Do?



            Any number of prognosticators have foretold that the world will end on December 21, 2012, or at least near that date, including the Mayans, the Incans, the ancient Egyptians, as well as Nostradamus, the great future-teller. Even NASA predicts increased solar activity in the general time frame of 2012 which could indicate a corresponding increase in violent weather events. Put “world end 2012” in a Google search box and over 300,000 responses will pop up. People all over the globe have formed groups dedicated to surviving the cataclysmic events they believe will occur.
            I don’t know whether the world will end in roughly six months or not. If I had to guess, I’d say not. Over time, there have been many predictions about the end of the world and we’re still here, muddling along like always. Meanwhile, the true believers of the past had to come out of their caves and down from their mountaintops to try to slip back into society, claiming an error in interpretation.
            I’m more fascinated by what individual people would do if they knew for a fact that their months were limited to a precious few. Would we tend to be more sharing or more selfish, would we work even harder or take what was left of life easier, would we go adventuring or cling more closely to home and family?
            Of course, many of the Google groups are busily trying to prepare to survive. They’re researching isolated locations where they can store food and water purification tablets and gas masks. And these end-times ants have guns so they can hold off the optimistic grasshoppers among us who might try to take their stuff.
            That would never be my style. If there’s only going to be 87 of us left after it’s all over, in a world of fire and smoke and ash and pollution and raging water and putrefying corpses, I don’t want to be one of them. I’ll give my place to someone younger and more hopeful. I'll wish them luck starting the next generation to re-boot the earth’s population.
            And, anyway, I don’t think I could shoot anyone who came knocking at my door with hungry children. I’m pretty sure I’d share my supplies until they were gone.  But, you know, I also think most people would have the same attitudes they have now when we don’t believe the world will end any time soon.  As a species, we’re not particularly generous-hearted toward the less fortunate although we talk a good game on Sundays when we’re in church. If we were, there’d be no such thing as hungry children and homeless veterans or slums or wars.
            I know one thing - I’d go to Ireland before it was too late. It’s the one place I’ve always really, really wanted to go but could never afford the trip. If the world was going to end, I’d run my credit cards up to the max because it wouldn’t matter, would it? The telecommunications system would probably be off-line and anyway, there’d be no one left to make those harassing phone calls wanting my late payment. So, I’d be off to Killkenny and Galway and Connemara to see the glens and loughs and the misty green hills of Eire.
            Of course, selfishly, I’d hope that some people would keep doing what they do now, for my sake. I’d wish for racers to keep racing and writers to keep writing, right up ‘til the last minute. And I think they would because I believe some people are driven to competition or creativity by something beyond a paycheck or even a future. I wonder how many of the rest of us love our work enough to continue reporting in if we had a half of a year left?   
            I think I’d move to the seaside. Maybe the coastlines wouldn’t be so crowded because our ideas of cataclysm almost always include tsunamis and hurricanes and floods so a lot of folks would probably take refuge in the presumably safer middle ground. I’d take my chances. I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing endless ocean waves sliding into shore ever again.
            I expect most families would band together if we knew the world was ending. Maybe some old feuds would be settled. Maybe some disgruntled husbands and wives would decide they love each other after all and renew their commitment to one another and maybe some would get apart while they still had a little time to find some happiness with someone else.
            The bottom line is that whatever you would do if you knew the world was going to end in six months is probably what you should do anyway. Because although The world probably won’t end in three and a half years, Your world might.