Apocalyptic Thinking

In The Time Travel Project on December 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Time Travel Project Introduction

Dear younger version of myself,

I’ve come across 2 journal entries you wrote for Cheryl LaFlamme’s 8th Grade English class.

On September 18, 1984, you wrote:

“I think by the year 2004 there will probably be passenger flights on the Space Shuttle. I’ll be 33 then. We’ll have gone through 5 presidents also. I have terrible visions of the future. Overcrowding, wars, inflation, food shortages, fuel shortages and other not so pleasant things happening.”

(I remember that this last line was inspired by an HBO special I saw about the predictions of Nostradamus narrated by Orson Welles. Supposedly the psychic predicted all these things occurring and it terrified me that a horrendous cataclysm would occur within my lifetime. The “other not so pleasant things” involved cannibalism.)

And on October 9, 1984 you wrote:

“Buck did not read the newspapers or he would have known that there was trouble brewing. He walked outside and 7 creeps jumped him and took all of his clothes and threw a grenade at his house and it caught on fire. Then the school bully beat him up and blowtorched the entire city. Battered, bruised, and naked, he thought nothing else could happen. Just then the atom bomb went off. And if Buck had read the paper none of this would have happened. What a bummer!”

I know that the October journal write is meant to just be absurd, probably inspired by Douglas Adams, but it definitely demonstrates apocalyptic thinking. And while the September entry starts straightforward enough, it rapidly concludes with a concern over an inevitable global disaster. For what it’s worth, you were born into a culture that was obsessed with the idea of the end of the world. However, please, please, please, quit this habit. Rest assured that global catastrophe does not occur in 2004. Only your prediction that we’d go through 5 presidents is accurate.

I remember your fear about what would happen to you after graduation. In your more morose moments you became depressed feeling there was no point to school, or in finding work and starting a career, if the world was going to end in a few years. But it didn’t. We’re still here. Horrible tragedies have happened and continue to happen, but the world and its inhabitants are still here. I think that’s the nature of life. Tragedies occur and we wonder how we can possibly go on. But the wonder of it all is not how but that we do go on. It’s inevitable.

I write this to you now because a few days ago a violent tragedy occurred in Connecticut and this Friday it is predicted that the world will end. I’m writing to let you know that there is nothing to fret over. Since 1984 there have been over 40 predicted apocalypses that did not happen. Humans have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world. Go here and see list of absurd predictions.

However, I’m not just telling you that you should feel assured because The Apocalypse is a myth. I’m also here to tell you that apocalypses happen all the time and we live through them. I’m talking about the one’s we don’t predict, that don’t happen on a global scale but are still devastating to a school, a city, a family, a single relationship. We can and do live through this and I think that’s pretty miraculous.

So do not fret about the future. We can’t predict what will happen and even when the horrible stuff shows up, we will live through it.  Instead, live in the present with hope.

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. It was fascinating and thought-provoking. It makes me wonder what I would have said during the same time period and what I would say now if I had my own comments to read.

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