On the Nopocalypse
While anything can happen between now and December 21st, I am reasonably confident in my prediction that the planet will not come to an end tomorrow, notwithstanding what various lunatics have interpreted the Mayans as saying. We’ll all still have to go to work, pay our bills, deal with various annoying people and get stuck in traffic, so perhaps there are some of us who will wish that the Earth would get consumed in a massive fireball, annihilated by an asteroid, or rent asunder by an earthquake, but those people are, alas, out of luck.
In short order, of course, we will obsess over the many people who gave away all of their possessions and spent every dime they had anticipating The Day Humanity Snuffed It. Get ready, gentle readers. Stories about those people are being prepared as I write this.
Which makes you wonder: What if half the mental energy that had been devoted to seriously—not jokingly, not ironically, seriously—worrying about the faux-Mayan-predicted apocalypse had been spent addressing an actual, honest-to-goodness issue crying out for human attention? Walter Russell Mead informs us that thanks to the existence of drug-resistant strains, tuberculosis is making a comeback. Tuberculosis! Blessedly, it is rare in the United States, but it is here and it could get a whole lot worse. Abroad, these new drug-resistant strains are a real worry. And since we do not vaccinate for TB, as Mead points out, the problem is compounded tremendously.
I daresay that there are a number of readers who would agree with me that the recurrence of TB could have used some human attention. And yet, valuable amounts of brainpower and focus was wasted worrying about misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar. Paradoxically, by obsessing as we have about a false apocalypse, we are giving actual dangers to humanity a fighting chance to manifest themselves in what could be truly awful ways.
Or, to paraphrase some song lyrics: It’s not the end of the world as you or I or anyone else knows it. But that doesn’t mean that we should feel fine.