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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Apocalypse

Not long ago a group of people gathered in anticipation of an apocalyptic event—though in this case, the Q'anon prophesied second coming of JFK and the anointment of Donald Trump as emperor of the world, was viewed by the participants as anything but the end. You can't make this stuff up. Raise your eyebrows my friends—it is beyond reason I know, but humans have been prophesying apocalyptic events long before scriptural foretelling. It does seem reasonable to fear cataclysm given that we have such a paucity of knowledge about our universe, why or how we came to be in the first place. Existential threats are nothing new of course, those that are a product of nature and those we have created by our lack of regard for the finite and precious gift of the planet on which we live.


It is also nothing new to worship powers above and beyond our own that we invest with the power to rescue us from obliteration. Admittedly conflating JFK and Donald Trump in the same sentence much less in the salvation of the world is, to be blunt, more than a little bit out there. But as much as this may be a commentary on the extremism which grips our world today, it speaks to a larger set of questions: why we believe that the ills of the world are beyond human cure; and why certain figures –especially those whose character and views could hardly be considered exemplary are endowed with near God like authority by those who have mistaken politics for religion and vice versa.


Clearly, I don’t have all or perhaps any answers to these questions, nor can I claim to know how we would cure the world’s ills, but I share with most people a few commonsense observations about some of the more daunting challenges we face. First, let us agree that our inability to end hunger, address the despoiling of our natural resources and its attendant consequences, find cures for many if not most life-threatening illnesses, provide adequate shelter and dignity for the world’s population and achieve lasting peace, is not because we lack the resources, but rather because we lack the will and the ability to reach an equitable agreement about how to use them. Time and again we have seen how in narrow contexts and on a smaller scale the world can mobilize itself for a brief instant to achieve impossible things. It is the possible that escapes us.


Now before you assume this is a screed about socialism or any other economic or socio-political system let me assure you that is not my purpose. Rather I state the obvious—our world’s problems are of our own making, a choice that we as beings have consciously made and continue to make every minute of every day we live and breathe. We might not be able to achieve every cure for our problems but we must admit it is largely within human power to do so. To paraphrase Walt Kelley's POGO, we have met the obstacle and he is us.


If we cannot agree on doing what we know is possible then our next best solution is to invest our hope in some being we believe capable of doing so and imagine they have such power as to compel the outcomes we seek. Some believe this is God, for others it is a resurrected JFK, or Donald Trump, or John Wayne, or Ronald Reagan; you get the picture. If you believe as I do in a higher being—one that dwells within us, than you have likely reasoned that such a power –though capable of anything would not intercede to fix what we have broken, solve problems that we have made for ourselves. Both free will and the sovereignty of human life require that we alone must fix what we alone have fouled.

Even were a human endowed with the authority to compel all peoples and nations to do his or her bidding—all we would have achieved is the ultimate form of human slavery. If we cannot agree when we are not compelled, how would we ever agree on who should bind us—and we have seen first-hand what comes when we grant any single individual ultimate authority. Presidents, emperors, legislatures are made up of human beings with all the attendant flaws and limits that make us who we are. So, we go on inventing boogeymen and saviours, believing that our differences in faith, politics and race are the real obstacles to achieving a better world for ourselves and our children. But somewhere in our darkest hearts we know; we know that if there is an end time, it will come at our bidding, the prodigy of living our lives without caring for each other as every faith and reason demands.

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