It’s a delicious, warm, golden, mid-September day at Caumsett State Park. Wheat is heavy in fields, yellow flowers everywhere, hard to imagine the Apocalypse. Eastern philosophy _ cycles within permanence _ tends to believe there will be another September; indefinitely more with wheat and flowers extending into practical eternity. Western philosophy, on the other hand, focuses on beginnings and endings and change and thinks the end may come at any time.
Western apocalypse was imagined long before biblical flood or Atlantis sinking or even before there was history. Then the Roman Empire fell and Christianity proclaimed the final day always just around the corner. For thousands of years everyone _ East, West, and elsewhere _ endured constant mini-apocalypse as the horsemen of plague, famine, and war rode forth. More recently, we feared nuclear Armageddon, Malthusian overpopulation, and vanished resources.
Ah, but you say this time is different. As technological Masters of the Universe we really can destroy everything. Nuclear disaster, boiling climate, ocean death, species extinction. Other doomsday scenarios are a dime a dozen. Civilization seems hell-bent on suicide and there is nothing any individual can do.
In these matters you cannot trust old people, drunken bums, abject failures, avaricious preachers, or myopic experts. Especially not old people, who wake each morning facing a nearer and more certain personal apocalypse. Many of them claim the world is rotten, nothing is as good as it was in their golden childhood, and maybe it is time to end everything before it gets worse. The rest hide away passing the time to oblivion in any way they can ignore anything outside their shell.
I don’t know. For seventy years Fate has relentlessly confirmed that I cannot predict either particular or general futures. So I remain optimistic. The world is massive. It continues to provide infinite wonders. Like this lovely afternoon.