Rod Miller: Notes On The Apocalypse

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Something is fixin’ to happen and it ain’t good. I can smell it, just over the horizon. I can’t see it yet, or shoot it, but its there. And its headed this way.

You feel it too, don’t lie to yourself. You feel it when you whistle past the graveyard and something whistles back. You feel it as that icy chill along your spine when you balance your checkbook.

The hair on the back of humanity’s neck raises because we can all feel it. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all feel it.

It manifests itself in the way the world behaves today. Suspicious and fearful toward each other and nervous about food, water and electrons, we fill our tanks and wonder how much will be left for tomorrow. We go to war over the scraps.

Without useful tools, we resort to politics. Because we mistrust our own wisdom, we rely on our emotions and superstitions. Nothing seems to work anymore and we’ve become scared children with nuclear weapons.

Like lab rats left to reproduce unchecked in a cage of finite resources, we are breeding ourselves away from the dinner table and toward a messy end. We have trapped ourselves between the laws of exponential growth and diminishing returns.

There are too many of us, and not enough of everything to go around. So we covet and hoard and consume what is in front of us, just so nobody else can get it.

And to justify our self-destructive behavior, we put words in God’s mouth. Even if our own children are hungry, we praise the bounty of others who have overflowing granaries and treasuries. We sanctify greed as a virtue, and call it the Will of God, out of our own yearning to have that much ourselves.

But read the scriptures – whether the Bible, the Koran, the Upanishads or whichever holy book blows your skirt up – and you’ll find that our little experience as carbon-based units here on Earth has a “use by” date. Pick your apocalypse. It is written.

Alongside the universal scriptural exhortations to humility, morality and good stewardship of the Earth are the universal scriptural warnings that it will all come crashing down in time. Its like the deities know more about us than we give them credit for.

My favorite scene in Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men” has two crusty rural Texas sheriffs bemoaning the drug violence along the border and the breakdown in order. One claims, “It started when we quit hearin’ ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’”.

William Butler Yeats skins the same cat in the opening of “Second Coming’ when he writes, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ the falcon cannot hear the falconer/ things fall apart/ the center cannot hold/ mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

So, its not like we haven’t been warned. But we ignore the warnings, and we exile the prophets as we turn our attention back to Fat City.

What do we expect? Do we believe that a benevolent god will excuse our childish squandering of our gift and save us from killing ourselves just because we pray? Do we have sugarplum fantasies of a new Earthly Garden lovingly presenting herself to us after we turned this one into a landfill?

What we see around us today are the “signs and wonders” that the incomprehensible it finally here. Things will not be okay, no matter how hard we cross our fingers. The Great Adios is a’comin’.

It feels like all humankind is in a headlong rush to meet it, laughing behind the wheel like this is some sort of cosmic game of chicken. Saying, “Hold my beer.”

I wish I had better news, but I don’t. All I can muster is a notion that there must be some sort of grooviness on the other side, and a healthy curiosity to find out.

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