Back in the day, there was this singing group called “New Edition.” One of their hits was a ditty that shared the same title as this post, “Is This the End?” I remember being in college listening to these young heads singing about the end of a love affair with some sweetheart. Got tired of it after awhile.
Let’s fast forward to today. Unless you’ve been sleeping the last few years, there’s been this growing interest in how we as a civilization might have our collective check cashed. Recently, our documentary channels are abuzz with programs on Nostradamus, Mayan “2012” prophecies, peak oil, global warming, Biblical prophecies, etc. Some of these programs will have some indigenous “talking head” telling us what their ancients said, or some PhD with his/her spin. Also, let’s not forget the recent cinematic outings: 2012, The Road, The Book of Eli, and the current Contagion. Enough of this would make one want to pack up their car and head for the hills.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still things that can happen and ruin our collective day for a long time: nuclear war (the granddaddy); global warming (the grandmommy); no more oil (“Peak Oil”); some natural catastrophe-terrestrial or extraterrestrial; terrorist attacks on a grand scale; artificial intelligence catching up and surpassing human intelligence; resources depleted by overpopulation; total economic collapse; and, of course the tried and true pandemic. All which make me ask tonight’s question, “Is This The End?”
To be honest, I really don’t know. But I can tell you what I think. First of all, I think all this fascination with “The End” is our way of trying to cope with our current problems in a changing world. It’s a collective coping mechanism where we ask “how bad could it get,” and then start thinking that these problems may do us in. However, obsessing with the end can create a sense of hopelessness, or the “why bother” mentality among X-tian fundagelicals. We could develop a morbid fascination that could prove harmful in the end.
Second, I also believe there are those who see the above potential game enders as a chance to restart civilization on a smaller scale. Think about it: have some catastrophe knock off a few billion people, destroy our eco-unfriendly infrastructure, and end our current socioeconomic system to bring about Eden. Anyone who subscribes to that is creepy in my book.
Third, it might not be a literal end. It could be the end of an age, an attitude. Think about here in the US with these fundagelicals running scared trying to gobble up seats of power. We’re witnessing changes in the spiritual world where organized religion’s losing steam. Institutions set up to serve predominately White males are getting overhauled by women and non-Whites. Non-heterosexual and non-monogamous sexuality’s gaining respect. The norms and values of our parents’ generation are dying off with them. We could be witnessing the dawn of a new collective consciousness; dare I say, theosis? God infusing us to make us one with Him/Her? Like Christ? Maybe the end that the ancients spoke of is more spiritual rather than physical.
Either way, we need to improve our lot right here and now. God gave us power to do just that. It’s high time for environmental justice so our descendants can still have a planet to call home. Bridge the gap between the rich and poor-allowing all a seat at the table. Improve our infrastructures to make them people and mass transit friendly. Start waging peace-from the street corner to the UN. Have our spiritual traditions walk the path of Jesus by engaging people instead of alienating them. We can do it-we just need to get it done.
Is this the end? If we start to work at real change, we might stave it off or cancel it altogether. However, if we just sit on our collective ass and do zilch, the answer just might be a tragic “yes.”