Romancing the Apocalypse

ApocalypseHas anyone else noticed the romanticizing of an apocalypse?

Be it a Zombie Apocalypse, a Nuclear Apocalypse, a Government Meltdown Apocalypse, or any other sort of disaster, there are those who romanticize this state affairs.

Why is this? I say with absolute confidence that modern society with all its amenities is far better than any apocalyptic scenario. The modern world is amazing. Modern medicine. Modern dentistry. Modern plumbing. Modern communication. I play chess with people from all over the world thanks to the internet and computers. I talk with friends and family at will. I know almost immediately when things happen. We have a virtually endless supply of clean water, hot water, food, comfortable lodgings, transportation, comforts.

After the apocalypse all these things go away. Even if I was somehow lucky enough to survive I’d be living without hot water every day. I’d be hungry and sober most of the time. I wouldn’t get to play Dungeons and Dragons and board games with my friends. I wouldn’t get to travel. The world would be much less beautiful. It would be, in a word, awful. And that’s at best.

So what is this romanticizing all about?

I think it’s about two different things although they overlap.

One group of people is those who are dissatisfied with life but also relatively comfortable. They have plenty. In comparison with people throughout the history of the world they are more comfortable, wealthier, have better access to food and water, shelter, live longer and with less pain; and yet they yearn to have not these material things but instead control of their life. That’s what an apocalyptic fantasy yields. I am the controller of my destiny. I find my food. I kill my enemies. I lead my family and friends to freedom and survival.

The modern world gives us many nice things but we are increasingly dependent on others for these luxuries. My food delivery service is late on Tuesday night thus inconveniencing me. A driver cuts me off on the way to work thus frustrating me. We largely do not control our destiny in a modern world and this births discontent and yearning for more control, the control a apocalypse seems to promise.

The other group of people are those who use fear of such a catastrophe to fleece us of our money. They promise safety when the world collapses … for a fee. They are often also part of the first group in they think they will have control once disaster strikes.

The first group is understandable but incorrect. An apocalypse will not give them more control, but less. There is more immediate control of things like gathering food but much less control of life in general. Is there food to be found? Water? Is it safe to leave the house? Will I be able to communicate with my loved ones? The answer is mostly no. Life is more dangerous, more capricious, and less controllable despite the promise of such power. It is certainly without the amenities.

The second group is largely despicable. They hope for terrible tragedy and the countless loss of lives in order to inflate their massive egos in regards to their own capability and also to steal your money. They are not to be trusted.

My point in all of this? Life is very good for more people now than it has ever been in the history of the world. Work not to destroy this world but to make it better. Yearn not for an apocalypse but incremental improvements to a system that is already pretty amazing. Look not at the driver who cut you off but at your ability to safely get to the grocery store and purchase all you need. Do not be angry when an ambulance momentarily blocks your path but understand that such a vehicle will one day take you or a loved one to a hospital for medical care that far surpasses any in the history of the world.

Sure, life isn’t perfect. Life isn’t fair. The government isn’t without flaw. My advice, don’t destroy, instead build. This is the path to controlling your life and the path to happiness.

Tom Liberman

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