The apocalypse has enthralled and frightened civilizations for thousands of years. Ironically, there appears to be no way to predict the end of these fateful prognostications. I have a few thoughts on what perpetuates humanity’s enduring obsession with obliteration.
Why are doomsday prophecies so seductive to so many people?
First of all, we need to define the meaning of “the end of the world.” The entire universe isn’t going to instantly vanish back into the nothingness from which it came. What most people define as a catastrophic change to the human world is incalculable death and destruction. Other persons understand the shift to be more symbolic; such as a radical transformation of collective consciousness.
The root causes of this phenomenon are related to fear. For some, it is fear of life and for others, fear of death. People who possess a consuming fear of death find a great sense of comfort and control in knowing exactly when the end of life will come. Now that the ultimate question is settled they can plan the rest of their days accordingly, with a certain sense of peace.
People who are petrified of confronting the challenges involved in living find relief in the thought that it will all be over soon. This excuses them from having to focus on making meaningful changes to their actions and their attitudes. It also provides validation for their fatalistic worldview, that they are powerless to positively influence the course of events.
Everyone is afraid of life and of death to some extent; it takes real courage to face ourselves and our lives head on. The problem is that if we live in fear, we are already doomed.
(Featured image: Death on a Pale Horse, Benjamin West)