Originally posted to Xanga on December 28, 2007
This topic has been weighing on my mind for a little over a year, probably longer. Hence, I've got a lot to say on this subject. This is probably going to be a long, wordy post. Prepare accordingly. What got me in this mindset was:
• Reading Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. This is an excellent book, very well written, and classic American 20th century literature. You're probably familiar with it, but if you're not, I highly suggest you go out and read it. It operates on the premise of surviving after a nuclear holocaust, but if you're not into that stuff, don't worry; it's not really about that. This book is filled with deux de machina, naturally, because these people have to build up a civilization that's been destroyed. The major theme is how the actions of one person can change the streams of civilization, from the one fighter pilot who caused the nuclear holocaust, to the one man who provided leadership to a town that was killing itself from its panic. Very interesting.
• Watching The Day After Tomorrow. (I just rewatched this recently and it almost prompted an entry on global warming, but my browser shut down and everything I had written was lost. I was too lazy to rewrite.) I love this movie, in spite of the lack of realism, propaganda, and how depressing it is . . . I mean, it has Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal in it! Who can pass that up?! But again, it tells the story of a civilization wiped out due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, giving global tragedy a face. It helps us to imagine what a wiped out world would look like, and piques our imagination of how people would react and what would happen to civilization as a whole. Also, I Am Legend. These movies on the end of civilization are plentiful. The Day After Tomorrow just happens to be my favorite.
• Attending an economic lecture. The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) helped to shed some light on the current economic condition of the United States. First, I learned that we don't need to worry about the trade deficit, or illegal immigrants sending the money they're earning here to Mexico! What a load off my mind. But I also got some perspective on the dire situation our economy really is in, mostly due to government meddling, IMHO. The value of the dollar is dropping, but the Federal Reserve just keeps printing more money. People are not spending or investing money wisely. Banks are handing out loans like candy and the housing market is in shambles. And our stock market . . . ! Obviously, I'm no economic expert, and I have only a rudimentary understanding of economics, but anyone can see the US economy is headed in the wrong direction. And when the economy collapses, the civilization must start over.
• Hearing the news of Bhutto's assassination. I got the news from the radio and my CNN homepage simultaneously yesterday morning. My mom was stunned. I mean, yes, everyone saw it coming, but that didn't make it any less tragic or shocking. So now what? The most dangerous nation in the world (a nuclear nation, you will remember) has launched into turmoil and chaos that is incredible, even for them. The US has also lost a key ally against terrorism and al Qaeda is stronger than ever. It seems like this puts everyone involved between a rock and a hard space. (And it's killing me how people are connecting this to the issue of democracy, and the spread thereof. Please, people! Democracy is a system, not a good in and of itself! Respect the dead and stop bringing this back to our foreign policy! But that's another entry for another time.)
So between the threat of nuclear weapons, natural disasters, terrorism, economic collapse, super viruses, or whatever, the ending of US civilization as we know has been on my mind. What would I do? How would I react? How could I contribute? My parents were discussing our distant relatives in the South somewhere and mentioned trade school, and this was me: "I wanna go to vocational school!" My parents were both irked that I had been listening to their conversation and confused by my sudden interest in trade school. I've always been the scholarly type. But I explained that I wanted practical, useful life skills in preparation for the end of our civilization. They gave me a strange look. And you're definitely thinking I'm a nut-case, if you've stuck with me this long. But I know that all of this stems from my two desires: to be prepared, and to be useful. To have no regrets and to be good for something. I'm not a fanatic, or a conspiracy theorist, I just want to be prepared for and part of something bigger. The end of the world is your chance to make a difference. No longer can you leave it to the politicians, teachers, or parents. We must all lead, and best to start learning it now.
"The other night I tripped a nice continental drift divide. Mount St. Edelite. Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! You symbiotic, patriotic, slam, but neck, right? Right." (REM)