“It seems the world is about to end.”
You might be saying that if you’ve been following the news. Almost immediately after the new year, when everyone becomes excited with the possibilities of a fresh start, things started to go sour. It’s not difficult to see how conspiracy theorists and people susceptible to the forces of mass hysteria could suddenly be swept up by varied reports of how horrible the world suddenly is.
I suppose it really started before the new year with increasing tension in the Korean Peninsula. With the United States and South Korea gearing up to hold a massive military drill, North Korea obviously had to respond with sabre-rattling and rhetoric to appear as if they had control of the situation. Suddenly, the world was on the brink of the Third World War, which was about to start in Korea. Certainly this is one of the more volatile places on the planet where there is obviously going to be a conflict in the future, but rather than a Second Korean War, which seems likely, the world was preparing for the Third World War, complete with nuclear holocaust.
Then a day or two after we rang in 2011, the media started reporting on the deaths of 5,000 blackbirds in Arkansas, and soon after reports of dead wildlife began to pour in from around the globe. Five hundred birds in Louisiana were found dead, as many as 8,000 turtle doves dropped from the sky in Italy, dead crabs washed up on the shores of England, and authorities in Sweden reported dozens more birds dead. Almost immediately, claims that these mass deaths were harbingers of Armageddon began to fly fast and furious on the internet.
In the United States, a gunman shot a congresswoman and 14 others for no discernable reason. Of course, that does not mean we cannot infer a reason. Almost immediately following this tragedy, discussion of whether the gunman was a fascist, communist, socialist, or conservative began to emerge. Suddenly, the focus of the tragedy went from the victims and the gunman to what larger group was responsible, with both right- and left-wingers accusing the other side of inspiring hateful acts through their rhetoric. Cue conspiracy theorists who see this act as the first shot in the revolution against the government. Or the first shot in a revolution by the government to further enslave the populace. Another harbinger of doom.
So where does the world go from here? Well, the Korean tension quickly subsided; the South held their drills and the North did nothing. In fact, the North is now asking for diplomatic talks without preconditions, a sign that they are finally willing to talk seriously.
As for the “Aflockalypse,” scientists have determined several mundane causes for the mass bird deaths that are not government conspiracy or Biblical prophecy. Not to mention that mass wildlife death is a common occurrence that is only now being overanalyzed because of the media frenzy surrounding the Arkansas event.
And perhaps the most shocking event, the attack on a congresswoman, is nothing new. There have been both assassinations and assassination attempts on public figures in the United State for decades. This does not mean these events are not tragic, but it does mean that one such event will not result in the total decay of society into civil war or anarchy.
Calm down. Take a deep breath. Things are bad, but they have certainly been this bad and worse in the past. Humanity has made it through tough times before; we’ll make it through these tough times as well.