Countdown to doomsday

FIGHTING WORDS - Kay Malilong-Isberto - The Freeman

The Christmas countdown of a TV network I follow in Twitter said that there are less than 30 days until Christmas. I subtract four days for the alleged end of the world on December 21,  2012. Later that day, I found a news article stating that some people believe that the end of the world will not be on December 21, 2012 but on December 12, 2012. That’s a little over two weeks from now.

The people who made money from publicizing these predictions must have made enough to last beyond either date.  What is disturbing are reports that the anxiety that adults are feeling because of the fear of the world ending is making minors living with them just as, or even more, anxious. It is not comforting to see one’s parents making one’s house a warehouse for canned food and water (or an arsenal to prepare for Armageddon). Worse are reports that some adults plan on committing mass suicide on or before day itself and including their children in the process.

I remember a similar atmosphere in 1999, when everyone thought that the world would end because computers would crash and be unable to recognize the proper date.  The worst case scenario included nuclear weapons being released and nuclear power reactors melting down as soon as January 1, 2000 arrived. Confident that they and their clients would survive, lawyers started putting Y2K clauses in their contracts, excluding liability for events caused by the imagined technical problem. Obviously, nothing as horrible as the imagined scenarios happened on New Year’s Eve of the year 2000.

I suppose identifying a specific date as the day the world would end is a good way for humans to remove the anxiety of not knowing when death would arrive. There are applications in social networks that predict how and when a person would die. While those are meant to be fun, I think they are macabre. I also guess that their popularity comes from the anxiety of not knowing when death would arrive. As far as I know, there is no tool that predicts when or how a person would die. What I have heard are stories of people doing things differently shortly before they died. Those they left behind interpret such actions as a way for the person who passed on to say goodbye without saying so. Perhaps a person does know when he or she is going to die except that such knowing may be at a subconscious level.

Thankfully, not everyone is going crazy over 12-21-12 or 12-12-12. I’ve listened to people joke that if the world is ending that soon, they are giving up their diets and eating all the cake they can have. Such comments are reminiscent of the jokes I heard in high school in the 1990’s during the first Gulf War, supposedly the end of the world as predicted by Nostradamus. It went like this: Agree to be my girlfriend so you won’t die boyfriend-less since birth. There were bawdier versions.

I also think that it is a fun exercise to imagine what one would do if he or she was certain that he or she had only twenty-five (or sixteen) days left to live. The longer period would allow for more creativity as the usual exercise (and exhortation) is to pretend that you only had one day left to live.

I thought I’d go for luxurious trips to exotic locations with no expense spared. Instead, I imagined doing domesticated things like cooking beef stew or baking raisin and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I’m grateful because I can actually do both with a quick trip to the grocery.  And if the world doesn’t end, I’d have improved my culinary repertoire.


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