The first time most in my generation experienced a media frenzy about the And of All Things was back in 1983. The planets were “aligning” guaranteeing all manner of havoc , terror, and death. Gravity fields were poised to rip my world apart just as I was learning to talk to (preferably older) girls. What a rip off! Turns out I had years of rejection in my future. This was also the first time I and many of my friends realized the news usually isn’t just that. We picked apart the facts afterward (such as the very minor tidbit that such movements of the planets happens on a regular basis, always had, and always will until our sun pops) kicking ourselves for not seeing all the inherent flaws in the logic.
Fast forward past multiple predictions of comet strikes, another “alignment” in 2000, religious raptures, nuclear war, alien invasion to May 2011. My children, nine and six, are living through their first taste of media-hyped Armageddon. This sucks. Not because the world will end their short lives, but because we never told them about it! They learned of it through friends at school. The schoolyard grapevine is an ancient device of rapid information distribution, and always will be like the aforementioned planets, but of all the questions my wife and I braced ourselves against we didn’t expect this one. Seeing fear in the face of your child is a pain that activates the deepest, most violent of protection instincts. Fortunately, we’ve both been down this road before and knew facts and truth, not simple, shallow reassurances is the best way to go. We told our children about all the times the world was supposed to end as far back in our lives as we could remember. And yet, there we were, still alive, still making sure they cleaned their rooms, still making sure they got up for school. Their fear of its likelihood dropped significantly, though the concept, like so many others to come, will now walk with them through their lives and perhaps help them talk to their own children. Could the end of the world has a silver lining?
People over the world have always predicted the end, and again like those planets in the void, they always will.
Or at least until the Sun goes pop, finally making them right.