Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fear of Mel Gibson

Meters swum today: None. Day off.
Playing on the iPod: Moby, from "Ambient"

I just got an emailed article from my aunt that triggered another round of "why aren't human beings logical". No doubt Mr. Spock asked that same question a lot. The article was about a guy who was investing in beans and rice so he could survive the coming financial apocalypse. Apparently, like the apocalyptic Mormons of the 1970s, the monetary doomsayers of the Oh Ohs, have to have two years of food stashed in your cellar for the end times, or the next time the stock market bottoms out. I used to know an apocalyptic Mormon family and spent much of one fine spring afternoon watching a conveyor belt carry clods of dirt up out of Lynette Gandre's basement as the cellar was constructed. Conveyor belts are fascinating when you're eight. So are dirt clods. If the whole end of the world message was lost on me, there were always nuclear wars about to happen, evangelical Christian Gods about to smite all nonbelievers, killer flus, alien invasions and any number of other ways the world could end to scare hell out of everybody.

Myself, I've always been dubious of anybody who thinks they know how and when the world will end. I call it apocalyptaphobia, which could be confused with fear of Mel Gibson. By the way, if you haven't seen Apocalypto yet, what are you waiting for? It's like Star Wars in the jungle with a twist ending that'll blow your mind. Yeah, it's unbelievably violent, and worse than that, it's morally ambiguous, but that's the point. When your world is ending, what behavior is acceptable? Is it okay to kill people who are going to kill other people? What about stockpiling food in your basement? Good on your family, but what happens when your hungry neighbors come and kill you because you have food and they don't? Do you have a rifle? Is it bigger than your neighbor's? If not, are you going to get a new one? Is this really survivalism or just materialism on steroids?

Anyway, what I find so interesting about this fear-of-the-end-times thing is that people seem to expect it to unfold like a Hollywood disaster movie. Whatever the cause, be it nuclear bombs, running out of oil, alien invasions or gay marriage, people seem to expect that citizens will run screaming through the streets, rioting, burning buildings down, and dodging the ineffective but suitably scary Army guys who show up too late to really help and yell interesting stuff like, "Calm down, Ma'am, we're in charge here."

Look, I dunno about you, but I don't think it'd happen that way. I think it's a lot more likely that things would get gradually worse, which for us first-worlders means gas would get too expensive to drive a block to the Quickie Mart, we wouldn't get our mangoes from Argentina in January and we might not have cable TV anymore. Absent a mass killing-off ala Big Steve's The Stand, we'd probably just adjust and move on. We lived in civilized society for about 20,000 years before the advent of the cell phone, and I imagine if they all disappeared one day, we'd just kind of shrug and find some other way to communicate.

The other day they quoted some guy in the paper I no longer read, stating that he was embarrassed to have to drive a Volvo around when all his neighbors still had Mercedeses. (Here's the world's tiniest violin...) Would somebody please explain to me why not being able to buy the big house in Plano with the excellent school district and a Jag to get to and from downtown Dallas registers just as high on the fear factor as the nuclear bomb? It's like when contemplating the idea that the American way of life is not sustainable and we'll all need to cut back so everyone else can have enough to eat, most people would rather I bring on the alien invasion. I don't get that. Okay, I know, people are not logical. People are not logical. People are not logical.



David Isaak said...

Sotring a little food isn't a bad idea even if you aren't expecting the end of the world. I no longer expect competence from our government in the face of natural disaster.

As I used to point out to my evangelistic friends (well, okay, they aren't friends--they're relatives) prior to 2000, according to their own effing book the End Times can't possibly be nigh. Jesus said he would return 'like a thief in the night' when none expected him--not when a zillion trued believers were shouting that the apocalypse was upon us.

Of course, the Bible also said that this was supposed to happen before a generation had passed, which means then End Times were sometime around the 2nd Century AD. Guess we somehow overlooked it.

But storing a little food isn't a bad idea. I mean, Who ya gonna call? Homeland Security?

Jen Ster said...

Having lived in Cali for lo those many years, we always have three or four days of supplies on hand. I still sometimes get a bit concerned that our.water heater isn't strapped to the wall.

Lynnette Gandre said...

Hello! This wouldn't happen to be Jennifer Johnson would it? I too was fascinated by watching the conveyor belt come out of my basement. More because the workers were cute. I'd love to hear from you. Lynnette