Does time run out for humanity? The conclusion may seem fresh once more, but it’s a very old concept that dates back to some uneasy Assyrian tablets from 2800 BC. “Corrupt practices and bribery are widespread,” they cautioned. Parents are no longer obeyed by their children. All men aspire to become authors. And the world’s end is drawing near. It does sound familiar, I suppose.
A few Romans of antiquity believed that their civilization would not endure past 120 years, or ten years for each of the 12 eagles that had told Romulus the party’s curfew. Amid persistent apprehension regarding the prophecies of an Italian monk called Joachim of Fiore, news of earthquakes and other natural calamities were interpreted as evidence of the worst in 1200, resulting in widespread anxiety throughout Europe. The bubonic plague struck shortly after, which was hardly an indication that things were heading in the right direction.
In the modern world, speculating on the end of the world has turned into a high-stakes game of guesswork where new dates keep popping up. More recently, numerous possibilities were lost during the 20th century due to its steadfast evangelical leaning. We are slated to perish in a catastrophic flood or due to an odd planetary configuration. One of the most famous (and ridiculous) prophecies came from Sheldan Nidle, the creator of a UFO church, who said that 16 million spacecraft would arrive in 1996 and bring about the end of the world. Some predicted comet impacts, nuclear catastrophes, and even the traditional Rapture. Not to mention the prophecy from the Mayans, but that was in 2012.
The idea of the end belongs to all of us, even though predicting the future may be the purview of a quirky, enlightened elite equally skilled at changing the yardstick. It’s a major cultural fixation of ours. A basic curiosity has been satiated by the countless movies, novels, TV series, and, more recently, computer games that have allowed us to explore different settings.
I don’t know if these natural disasters are specifically acts of God, but I do think that mankind can quickly destroy themselves. That may be considered, in a way, faith—a form of spirituality—a secular framework for evaluating morality, setting priorities, and making decisions. and utilizing which a sense of unity and belonging might be attained.
Scientists frequently discover that humans thrive throughout calamities. It appears to be a sign of adulthood. I carry this particular light almost joyfully because I believe that believing ultimately improves the present. All of us have been asked, in a mental exercise designed to condense our passions and compassion into hard diamonds of meaning, what we would do if we only had a few hours, days, weeks, or months to live.
We can remove those priorities from the theoretical domain when we hold the belief that the current era’s escalating tragedy and increased hostility are only the beginning. It makes possible the kind of emotional transparency that would otherwise be excessive. It enables us to feel, think, and behave in ways that we might not otherwise be able to. It inspires us to be more caring, truthful, and straightforward.
Georgios Ardavanis – 02/11/2023