A Different Apocalypse

Some say the end is near
Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon
I certainly hope we will
I sure could use a vacation from this

Bullshit three-ring circus sideshow

I was raised to believe in the end of the world. I read the Left Behind books with eagerness, and spent countless hours fantasizing about what it would be like to miss the rapture, even though I was confident in my own salvation. Though my family didn’t stockpile obsessively as many apocalyptic cults do, we took Y2K pretty seriously, setting aside water and buying plenty of bulk food and 30-hour candles that would take years to burn through. I remember vividly the moment after midnight on New Year’s Day of 2000. Everyone looked around, as if expecting something to happen, for the lights to go out. When nothing happened, I still believed firmly in the apocalypse. I just concluded that as the Bible says, nobody knows the day or time when Jesus will return.

It was only when I stopped believing in the existence of any gods whatsoever that I could finally adjust to a world without a foreseeable end – not in my lifetime, anyway. I began to write about how I felt free to live my life at last, instead of feeling like I had to be martyred at a young age for Jesus, or that my life would be cut short by the apocalypse. When you realize that god never existed the whole time, little realizations come along every day. Oh yeah, I don’t have to pray every time I eat and sleep, was a common thought at first, but it never crosses my mind anymore. The first time something bad happened to me after I became an atheist, I remember realizing that I didn’t have a fallback to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. This was a relief, because it meant god hadn’t failed to intervene in any instance where anything evil has ever happened.

But now, four years later, I have another apocalypse to face: the near-term extinction of the human animal. This apocalypse is in some ways more terrifying than a god destroying a place to create a new one. The two perspectives on the apocalypse have drastically differing results. Apocalypse-believing Christians believe that the Earth is disposable, because god created it with ease, and our souls will survive its demise. But people who recognize that climate change will soon destroy humanity believe that our habitat is not disposable at all. It will never be replaced, and there may be no trace of us except our space junk in the near future. This is heavily backed by science, which I don’t feel the need to go into here. Here’s an essay on near-term extinction, and here’s an article that says we may have only 31 years left before 90% of humanity is extinct, unless drastic measures are taken, efforts which we are nowhere close to making.

Some say a comet will fall from the sky
Followed by meteor showers and tidal waves
Followed by fault lines that cannot sit still
Followed by millions of dumbfounded dipshits
And some say the end is near
Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon
I certainly hope we will
I sure could use a vacation from this

Stupid shit
Silly shit
Stupid shit

Emotionally, I’m all over the place about the extinction of my kind. Primarily, I’m angry that I’ve had to go through two different apocalypse problems in my life. The first was the delusional one of fearsome Christians, but the second is one that my parents still insist is equally delusional: climate change is making the planet unlivable for humans. But secondarily, I feel a sense of relief. Maybe if this whole humanity thing has to end with our extinction brought on by colonial-capitalism, it deserves to go away. I listen to the above lines and tears stream down my face as I release the emotions. The system we live under is so ridiculous. We are funneling all the resources to a very few number of people, while they exploit the rest of us. It’s as simple as that.

Personally, I don’t feel that there is much hope of a future. I expect that I will be trapped in poverty for the rest of my life, always fundraising and scraping up work to get by, unless the economy collapses and money becomes irrelevant, which is also entirely possible. This life will be full of the adventure of getting to watch the world end, and that means dealing with the visceral, exhausting, hungry, and dirty components of living in the midst of human crisis. And a lot of the time, it will not feel adventurous. It’s going to be the worst thing any of us have gone through, and I am not confident that I will live for long.

One great big festering neon disaster
I’ve a suggestion to keep you all occupied:
Learn to swim. Learn to swim. Learn to swim.

I don’t think I will live long because I am filled with despair. Right now the only thing keeping me from severe suicidal ideation and total lack of executive dysfunction is medication and EMDR therapy. I don’t know if I will always have access to the medication and therapy. More than that, I am lucky to be housed right now, which is tremendously beneficial for mental health compared to having unstable shelter. My despair is based in the fact that so few people seem to care at all about climate change, and it seems unlikely that we will do anything to halt our influence on the planet.

I keep saying that humanity will go extinct and that we’re destroying our own habitat, rather than saying that the world is going to end, because the planet will survive us just fine. Other animals, especially sea animals, will survive after we are gone, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of years from now, another creature will emerge that will go farther than we ever did. I like thinking about the possibilities beyond humanity, after humanity is gone. I have hope beyond us. But it is not immediate hope. It is the deeper understanding that the course of all time has already outlived and will continue to outlive us, me.

So what I’m doing is I’m learning how to manage my mental illnesses, and learning to tread water, based on an analogy in this wonderful essay on suicidal ideation. I’m figuring out who I trust and informing myself on what I can do to help those around me to stay alive. I want for us to stick around as long as possible, so we can see the show, so we can resist the system that is destroying us. Observing the collapse will be something to experience, I have no doubt about that. I am tired of living in a police state where I have to conjure abhorrent amounts of cash for the right to shelter. I want to see it all come crashing down, and I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to do just that.

‘Cause I’m praying for rain
I’m praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way.
I wanna watch it all go down…

Don’t just call me pessimist.
Try and read between the lines.
And I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t welcome any change, my friend.

I wanna see it all come down.
Bring it down
Suck it down.
Flush it down.

(lyric source)