Home > World events > Oh, mama, can this really be the end?

Oh, mama, can this really be the end?

The horror film or the science fiction book often starts like that, doesn’t it, with small seemingly unrelated facts, harbingers of the end? One fly buzzing around an eatery, settling repeatedly on uneasy diners’ hair and hands and plates; one crow sitting on a telephone wire, staring at kids on their skateboards; one mangled body found in a wood; and so on, until the bad things start developing.
Is something equally dire going on in our world? Have we seen enough scary movies and read enough scary stories to recognize the signs? Are we hurtling toward the end or at least toward some kind of explosion? Start with the killing sprees and murderous rampages of governments intent on destroying their own people, secure in the knowledge that world institutions and leaders may disapprove and even wring their hands but not take a step to stop the massacres. Last week in Houla, the Syrian President’s thugs went from house to house, stabbing and bludgeoning more than 90 people, victims to add to the more than 12,000 killed by the Iran-supported mass murderer Assad in the last fifteen months. On to the ghoulish: Under a causeway in Miami, a man high on the synthetic drug labeled “bath salts” feasted on another man’s face until he was stopped by multiple bullets from local police. And now we hear of a second cannibal in Baltimore eating the heart and brain of someone he killed. Is devouring each other going to be the new normal? And what about the muffled roar in our cities of crash after crash of our financial institutions imploding? What’s to become of all of us money-dependents and worshipers if our temples cease to exist? And what about what we’re doing to our planet? Don’t the images of polar bears stranded on fast-melting patches of ice register at all?

What else? Alliances? The European Union? Booming emerging economies? All disappearing fast.Within a few short years, things have been turned on their head. The old no longer works and there’s no new in place. A few days back, a panel at the National Center for Books in Paris hosted Jean Daniel, a legendary journalist who talked about rising nationalism which he rightly finds an alarming concept when opposed to the political idea of nation and which is, nonetheless, gaining traction, showing that we have no idea how quickly nationalism can turn into dangerous ideology. The word he used to describe our present world perhaps teetering on the brink of destruction, was “ensavagement” (“ensauvagement” in French). So, after millennia of trial and error, we are no wiser, no stronger, no more secure.

Should we pay closer attention to signs or continue as we are, either in totally ignorant bliss, or in the belief that things are no worse or no better than at any other time throughout history’s somber track record? Are these difficult times auguring the Apocalypse or, less dramatically, a series of glitches? Should we subscribe to the-end-is-here view or take comfort in the thought that we’ve weathered tough patches before? Questions, questions, and few answers, if any at all.

  1. Melinda Barnhardt
    June 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    A first response: evil hasn’t increased. Technology simply allows us to know more about the evil that’s out there. But this is cliched and inadequate. Technology also allows us increased capability to root evil out, so the conventional response (as this blog consistently shows) doesn’t cover things
    Questions, and few answers is right! I’m left with the example of Sattareh Farman Farmaian, who died last week: She departed from Iran for college education in the US during WWII, only to have the ship she sailed on torpedoed by the Japanese. She tried again a few months later, and ultimately graduated from the U. of S. California with a B.A. in sociology, and a Master’s degree in social welfare. As the Washington Post states today, “she founded a trailblazing social welfare movement on behalf of other women, children, prisoners and other disadvantaged Iranians in the years before the Islamic revolution… .” After fleeing the revolution, undaunted, she continued similar astonishing work in the U.S. and the world. Her obituary is in the June 2 WPost. I hope many read it!


    • June 3, 2012 at 7:34 am

      It isn’t so much that evil has increased or that technology disseminates more info but that the world we knew seems to spin faster toward general disaster (environment, rotten economy, etc.). We see it as same old, same old, except in scale, where it actually may be different in nature.


  2. Maryam yekta Steininger
    June 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I don’t believe that President OBAMA is a brave leader. I am confused by his actions and in November I can not vote for him. This world of us, so deep in trouble , needs some knowledgeable and one with much more experience . The Middle East and every place in the world need a leader who can change this calamity.


    • June 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Yes, but are our choices? Obama still appears a fearless giant for the defence of our rights when compared to Romney… Can we imagine another 4/8 years of fundamentalist Republican government? The next President might well nominate at least one Justice: can we imagine a yet more conservative Supreme Court that even more frees the 0.1% to exercise even more influence on politics just because they are so immensely rich?

      We ned to fight for what we have left in order not to lose even more.


  3. June 5, 2012 at 4:07 am

    On a much smaller scale, I see differences between now and when I was growing up. Something as small as the way people regularly tailgate now on the highway. There’s so much anger and impatience. As a culture, I don’t think we have much tolerance and compassion any more, not just on a large, political level, but on a person to person level. I wouldn’t say that this can’t change. It’s just the way I see it now.


  4. June 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Things look bleak, but let’s face it, it’s more like in 1960 with the rise of nationalism and individualism (and limited wars) than like in 1932 with the rise of nazism leading to WW II.

    Most/all leaders seem feckless, but even the worse are in no position to cause the disasters Hitler created.


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