I know the reason for our obsession with the apocalypse. It has nothing to do with the millennium, or the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, or certain Christian groups’ obsession with the Book of Revelation and the “Left Behind” series. It doesn’t even have to do with the horrifying cannibalism-inducing LSD plaguing Miami. These are not the causes of our apocalypse-consciousness, they are the symptoms. We are obsessed with the apocalypse because of the psychological phenomenon known to many of us as projection: When we are unconscious of something about ourselves, but, knowing it to exist on some deep level, we acknowledge its existence by imagining that it exists outside ourselves. We see this when our hopelessly disorganized boss recommends that we start using a calendar, or when a friend, yelling and making a scene, informs us that we are “such an attention-whore.” Projection is what prompted Tolkien’s observation, “The treacherous are ever distrustful.”
The apocalypse is not coming; it is already here–but not for us. We are in the midst of a long string of apocalypses of other species, apocalypses orchestrated by us. They are the result of our building projects and our environmental habits. Remnants of our fellow species resurface from a state of shock, initially relieved to find their homes intact. Moments later, they experience the angst-inducing sounds of the after-effects of the apocalypse. They get up the courage to look and see if any of their neighbors have survived. Horrified, they find that where once stood a tangled grove of trees and vines is now desecrated by the pile of rubble and concrete we call a “highway.”
We are the architects of these apocalypses of our fellow species. We rarely take the points-of-view of these sentient beings, and so we are unaware of our actions as apocalypses. But there is a part of us that perceives the whole, and this part of us is ever aware of our actions and their consequences. We force this part of ourselves to remain unconscious, and so we only feel its emotional state bubbling up in our consciousness. This existential angst scares us half to death. Not knowing that it is our friends who are really in trouble, we hypothesize that it is our impending doom that must be the cause. Whether by God, alien, or zombie, we know an end is near. What we cannot imagine is that an end is here, but not for us. We are the monsters.
I am not saying there isn’t room for human building, human projects, human creativity. But until we operate from the mind set that “I and the land are one,” we will always overstep our bounds. As has been pointed out ad infinitum, and has fallen on deaf ears in perpetuum, the biblical charge to have “dominion over the earth,” refers to stewardship, not domination. Once we start behaving in an earth-centric way, I guarantee the apocalypse will no longer hold sway. Sorry, Hollywood!
And we don’t have to wait for the entire world to change its ways for this transformation to occur. As soon as I started car-pooling, recycling, and behaving in an earth-conscious way, almost all of my anxieties about the environment disappeared. It’s about our own personal relationship with the universe. Heal your world, and the world at large will follow.