Advanced Eschatology: R.I.P. 2014

Don’t you just love the latest FaceBook silliness in which we proudly proclaim, “It’s been a great year. Thank you for being a part of it!” Really? 2014 was a great year? In what parallel universe did that occur? Or is it just wishful thinking? Or are we just sheep following our leaders off the cliff, the dance leaders, that is; like Rome before the fall, or the last cabaret in Hitler’s Berlin? Now denial—like hero-worship—is nothing new, and FaceBook is not known for high intellect, but this is a new low.

And that’s saying something for a medium specializing in silly pet tricks and reverse child psychology that goes something like: “I love my mother-in-law. Do you love your mother-in-law? If you do, then please ‘like’, follow, or share this post. I know that most of you won’t, but I want to see how many of you will.” What rubbish.  Did you know that ‘likes’ are now currency? It’s true. What Marvel Comics super-hero are you, anyway? I’m Captain America…

More importantly, which part of 2014 did you like the best: the Ebola epidemic, maybe? Now there’s a memorable series of moments, death destruction and denial, in which highly-paid pundits and Math 101 extrapolaters (i.e. bloggers) predicted that there would be a cool Mil (1,000,000) number of victims by now. In actuality: “As of 23 December 2014, this outbreak has 19,648 reported cases resulting in 7,645 deaths.” (Wikipedia)

Ouch. And then there were that not-so-lonely band of lovable losers known variously as ISIS or the Islamic State or The Artists Formerly Known as ISIL, in which bad Fashion Police finally claim turf, proclaiming cleavage illegal at penalty of amputation, and wayward thoughts illegal at penalty of beheading, all of which prompted Noam Chomsky to declare the probable ‘end of history’. Now I’m no huge fan of Chomsky’s politics or his linguistics, but he may have just nailed this one—shut. Give Boko Haram honorable mention in this category.

Then there were the loss of a Malaysia flight over the open ocean and another over occupied Ukraine at the point of a gun; and the occupation of that same Ukraine by unrepentant Soviet-style Russians. A military coup in Thailand doesn’t even make the list. Nor does the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan (or Iraq) or the nuclear situation in Iran, near the top of last year’s list. Ditto global warming. Then there’s the swarming of the US border by the wild boys of Central America (remember that?) which is nothing if not apocalyptic. And don’t forget the killing of unarmed black boys by hired police guns.

But my favorite top 2014 event has to be the most recent one, still in progress, in which a second-rate Hollywood film producer produces a second-rate Hollywood film which proceeds to insult North Korea’s revered leader, provoking mutual cyber-hacking, and possibly WWIII, all for mutual amusement, while Americans flock to see the B-movie, invoking patriotic sympathies and the free world’s right to insult whomever we want whenever we want, imposing our sacrilegious view of the world on the rest, a movie within a movie, a B-script gone viral. Would you die for a bad Hollywood movie?

The only thing that all these events have in common is the probably cause: yes, him. You know. If it’s any consolation, it’s all happened before. You don’t have to have a degree in Advanced Eschatology to know that. Periodically, like about every thousand years (numerical coincidence?), the ‘End of Days’ is awaited expected declared, and maybe even welcomed, as a cure-all, a species’ special death wish to reboot and start all over, promising to the high heavens to do it right next time, while making little or no effort to correct the ongoing problems this time—while there’s still time. Tick tock.

One of the more memorable eras for eschatology was about 2000 years ago in the crossroads of the world at the crossroads of history, away in a manger somewhere. Such was the era that Jesus was born in and which informed his ministry, in which he begged us to remember what we were fast forgetting and imagine what might be truly be.

But of course then the falling empire in question was not America, but Rome. And the final ‘Fall’ only came some several hundred years later, depending on how you count, something which hardly seems likely now with our accelerated time-line. But other than that, the two eras are similar. Jesus arguably saved the day then, with his message of universal love and unconditional forgiveness. But who will save us now?

Regardless of the price of gas or ass, nothing will save us if we can’t save ourselves. This is the classic conundrum of free will in a deterministic world. We are dealt one hand. Then we play another hand, tossing a few cards and requesting a few new ones in the process. Such is life—the ultimate gamble, or not. It would seem like a good time to hold hands, look for new friends, and maybe try a little kindness—and politeness—in the process. That would be a good start. Happy New Year 2015.

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