Friday, September 28, 2012

Localized TEOTWAWKI? It could happen to you!

I had some really interesting conversations at the Fair. One young man wanted to debate with me the use of the word apocalypse in the title of my book and whether or not it was correct to use that word without referencing the Bible.

In his opinion, the only valid use of that word would be in reference to the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse as foretold in the Book of Revelation which was documented by the exiled Roman author, John of Patmos. As a writer, a word-smith, an afficionado of English linguistics and the history of the English language, and a student of a few other languages, I understand the nature of words as dynamic and fluid - changing depending on the user and the circumstance.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, the word "apocalypse" comes from the Greek apocálypsis and means "uncovering" or a revelation. The Dictionary.com meaning includes the meaning I use of the word as any universal or widespread destruction or disaster. When I used that word, it had no religious connotations to me, at all.

As I told him, I don't think it's my job to tell anyone what to believe with regard to one's personal spirituality. Further, I believe one's spiritual beliefs are very personal, and there is a very distinct difference between religion and spirituality - in my opinion (and just remember, please, that my book is entirely my opinion, and so, since we're talking about a word I chose to use in the title of my book, my opinion really is all that matters).

Then, there was the conversation I had about the whole idea of TEOTWAWKI - the end of the world as we know it. The book I wrote and published is based on the premise that in twnenty-one days some catastrophic event is going to happen that is going to change life as we know it, and that change is going to result in a loss of all of the things we take for granted in our modern societies.

There seems to be a mistaken assumption that people, like me, who toss about phrases like the end of the world as we know it believe the end will be one single catastrophic event that plunges us all into a new Dark Ages and sends us all back to live in caves, eeking out an existence as best we can while we compete with the bears for meat and the bugs for vegetables.

That sort of easily defined That's All Folks is not the future I envision, at all, in spite of my book's premise (which is just a thought exercise). In fact, while I write about imagining we have twenty-one days, my bigger concern is that it will be more like twenty-one YEARS or some other, equally lengthy (by human standards) period of time before we've really collapsed far enough for the average person to think, "Wow! Things sure have changed!"

A slow collapse concerns me, and yes, I did mean to use the word concern (not that I want there to be an EMP or nuclear war, although it's a little like the difference between pulling off an adhesive bandage all at once and trying to peel it slowly - the pain may seem more intense the first way, but the recovery is much quicker), because my concern is that a slow collapse allows people to be either complacent about the future, or to be making very short-sighted and disastrous decisions that will solve very short-term problems with very long-term and significantly destructive consequences, like razing whole forests for the lumber, fracking, deep sea oil drilling, mountain-top removal, nuclear power plants, mono crop agriculture, feeding corn to livestock, BPA-lined cans, High Fructose Corn Syrup, coal mining .... Any one of those things was a short-term solution without any understanding of the long-term consequences.

The problem is that, for the average person, the collapse will be slow enough that he/she won't notice it until it's too late. It's like the boiling frog syndrome - put a frog into hot water, and he'll jump out. Put him in cold water and incrementally increase the heat, and he'll boil alive before he even knows he's dead.

So, what if instead of some catastrophic event that changed the world, we moved a little closer to home, and we were given a heads' up that in twenty-one days, our own personal life would suffer a significant shake-up? It could be something as simple as losing a job and not finding a new one or something as huge as another World War. It could be a natural disaster, like the Colorado wildfires, which will take years to recover from, or an event like Hurricane Katrina, and seven years later, some people have not, nor ever will, return to New Orleans, and parts of the city are a ghost town.

Maybe the kinds of preps I, and people like me, discuss wouldn't be useful for some possible scenarios, but there are a lot of things that we could be doing to minimize the negative effects of normal, everyday, life-changing events. The challenge is to recognize that sometimes the "apocalypse" looks nothing like Four Horsemen, but the reality is sometimes just as catastrophic as our TEOTWAWKI fantasies.

No comments:

Post a Comment