June 29, 2013
Living things die. Non-living things erode or dissipate or quit working. It’s a fact of life, we say, that nothing lasts forever. I won’t. We won’t. The Empire we live in won’t. The earth we live on won’t. The sun that provides the energy for the earth we live on won’t.
So why do doomers worry so incessantly about doom and non-doomers worry so little about it? My own guess is, that both reactions are because we know, deep down inside, that how and when doom does come or things die, within certain limited parameters, is largely a matter of chance. And, doomer or non-doomer, we don’t like that. So, we pick our poison – worrying or not worrying, prepping or not prepping – and live our lives until, however the end comes, our time is up.
I thought about this last December, after that little old man in the big car made his too-short, left turn and knocked me over as I walked across the street. Sitting in my chair afterward, bruised and banged up, I realized that, for all my prepping for a future doom, the difference between being grazed by the car or being run over or dragged by the car –making the recovery that I did or being incapacitated or dead (my own personal doom) – was a matter of a few inches one way or the other, for me or the car.
And that’s the thing about doom. It’s just so darn fickle. It comes whether you’re looking for it or not and often comes in a way you didn’t expect even when you were looking for it. We worry about financial collapse, dwindling energy supplies, climate change, the end of the Empire. But none of what we know about these problems, let alone the way one may interact with the others, is written in stone. Science is about testing hypotheses and building the best, most accurate models we can from the evidence that testing provides. But no theory is ever said to be proven in science, simply because there is always the chance – no matter how small – that new evidence will come in to disprove a part of it or change the expected outcome of it in ways not considered before.
That’s not to say, we should all go Alfred E. Newman about these things. The terrible suffering these looming problems have already caused, are causing and will cause is real. Ask the people, worldwide, who lost everything they had in the 2008 economic collapse, Superstorm Sandy, the recent, ill-timed monsoons in India or the two unnecessary wars we’ve fought in Afghanistan and Iraq to prop up the Empire. And we’d be foolish not to do everything we can personally, nationally and globally to mitigate or prepare for those problems.
It is to say, we know certain events are highly probable; what we don’t know with certainty is how they will manifest themselves in these destabilized, complex and interacting systems. We can be pretty sure that as they move into new states, some of the side effects will be very unpleasant, some will be deadly for a certain percentage of the global population and some small percentage may actually thrive. The discontinuities may be abrupt, but the overall process is likely to be much slower than most of us expect. I’m with John Michael Greer on this; http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/06/imperfect-storms.html, if we panic and yell, “Doom, doom” every time one of these discontinuities happens, we’ll not only not be taken seriously, but we’ll wear ourselves out.
Doom will come in its own sweet time. As it comes, in whatever form, some will die. Some will suffer, but survive. Some will thrive or find a way to make a buck off of it. And some will get hit by a car while they’re waiting around for doom. What’s for certain is, in the end of the end, none of us will make it out alive. So we may as well chill out a little, do what we can to prepare and help others prepare, and savor those moments of pleasure life provides each of us while we can.