The end times were once again on the radio this morning.
The two DJs were, of course, joking that the Mayan calendar predicted the world would end Dec. 21, 2012. With less than three weeks until that date, it seems like everyone is talking about it.
Even NASA is getting in on the action. The agency created a page on its website devoted to debunking the myth—not least because the Mayans never predicted any such thing. The date is simply the end of one time period that simply starts over.
“Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012,” NASA wrote.
Still, there’s an undeniable fascination with the end times. As I write this article, Google News shows 11,500 results for the phrase “Mayan calendar.”
This is hardly the only end-of-the-world prophecy to fascinate the public. 2011 was supposed to see the return of Christ—first on May 21 and then, when that failed to happen, on Oct. 21, according to 91-year-old Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping.
And let’s not ignore all the post-apocalyptic literature on bookshelves, pundit claims that America is tearing itself apart (complete with secession petitions!) and the ongoing zombie hysteria. Americans have a morbid fascination with the destruction of society.
Readers, I’m right there with you.
When my wife is out for the night, I scan Netflix for a choice zombie flick. I devoured (hah!) Colson Whitehead’s zombie novel Zone One then headed to the Fitzgerald Theater to hear him speak with Kerri Miller. Let teenage girls have vampires and their highfalutin ways. I prefer zombies and what they have to say about the thin veneer of civilization.
There’s a darker side to that, though. I’ve actually seen dysfunctional society in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve visited former al Qaeda torture chambers in Baghdad and glass-strewn markets that rival sects had transformed into battlefields. If pressed, I’d tell you that couldn’t happen in America—certainly not in Minnesota.
And yet …
Perhaps that’s why I wonder what would happen if anarchy descended upon Minnesota. Could Hopkins remain an island of order in a chaotic ocean? Would the counterinsurgency principles of Iraq and Afghanistan work in our own country?
What would I do and where would I go if things fell apart?
It’s a thought experiment I’m sure I’m not alone with. If you’ve ever thought about what you’d do if society collapsed, share your thoughts in the comments below. Would you hole up at home? Would you head to some safe haven in Hopkins, perhaps City Hall or the Police Department? Or would you head for the Northwoods and steer clear of society?
After all, doesn’t every zombie flick teach us that man is the real monster?