‘Raising Hope’ for the end of the world

December 21st, 2012

So, it doesn’t look like the world is going to end. Angels didn’t descent from the heavens, and neither did reptilian shape-shifting aliens. There’s been no report of zombies, or meteorites. The Fed presses are still churning out economic doom and it doesn’t seem as though we’ve been struck by a singularity of infinite consciousness expansion … at least I haven’t. If you have, certainly let me know about it. There’s a still a few hours left, so keep your fingers crossed, or whatever superstition you prefer, but I’m pretty confident saying this apocalypse was a dud.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about. If anything there’s far more to talk about now that there’s time.

There’s been a lot of speculation, a lot of satire and a lot of straight up fear mongering. I think I should probably begin by saying that taking an entire civilization that lasted for over two thousands of years and reducing it to a New Year’s Eve party and some bogus prophecy they never made is pretty ludicrous. If you haven’t yet, you should look them up and read about them. They’re pretty interesting.

Out of all the memes and jokes from late night comics, and bogus experts I think the best thing I’ve seen about the 2012 phenominon was an episode of “Raising Hope” titled “The Last Christmas.” You can still watch it online here.

Raising Hope is a sitcom about a dysfunctional family and their antics… you know, like all sitcoms now. Jimmy Chance is an eccentric twenty-something who knocks up a serial killer, and when she’s sentenced to death and electrocuted he gets custody of his daughter, Hope. Jimmy relies on help from his rather lunatic family, and comedy ensues.

In this episode Jimmy’s mother, Virginia buys the apocalypse prophecies completely and starts preparing. What’s particularly strange is that she seems have accepted all of them, simultaneously preparing for asteroids, aliens, nuclear holocaust and everything else that’s saturated the culture in the last year. The family plays along of course.

When the clock strikes midnight and it’s clear things will continue as normal Virginia has this exchange with her husband Burt, which I think is one of the most insightful things I’ve seen about apocalypse cultists:


BURT: Hey… so nothing happened. It’s not the “end of the world.”

V: I can’t believe this. This totally sucks.

B: Look. I know you planned for this to happen and everything. But aren’t you just the tiniest bit glad the world isn’t over.

V: No, I’m not. This was supposed to be my moment Burt. I was finally going to show Jimmy that I could be a good mom.

B: Jimmy thinks you’re a good mom.

V: Oh Please. Every week he dredges up some parenting disaster from our past. How I didn’t breast feed. How his first steps were down a flight of stairs. How we forgot him that one time at a White Snake concert.

B: Oh come on! What 9-year-old gets to say they spent a week on the White Snake tour bus?

V: I just thought that he would look at me as a good mom if three quarters of the human population was wiped out and I was prepared.

Isn’t it just possible that that’s what this has all been about? That we all see so much dysfunction in our own lives, and in the world around us that some part of us wants there to be some kind of cosmic reset button, so we can start over and get it right? I mean, as bad as things are it’s becoming hard to even imagine any kind of course correction that doesn’t include some catastrophic transition period. Apocalypse hysteria offers us simplicity, efficaciousness and predictability, but most of all it lets us feel important, like we’re the generation that saw the end that so many previous generations prophesized, and maybe we’re even the founding generation of whatever comes next. It’s a shot at being in the history books.

It’s an appealing fantasy, and I can see why so many people fall in love with it. But isn’t it just possible that we gravitate toward these grandiose mythologies because we feel so powerless and dissatisfied with our own lives? Isn’t it just possible that the idea of surviving an apocalypse by whatever means captures our imagination because we’re so desperate for hope?

Well I’m here to tell you that your world is over right now if you want it. Thomas Paine once said, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again” and that has never stopped being true. So, if you’re unhappy with your life, if you feel meek and exploited, if you long for a more meaningful life than “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” as Henry David Thoreau said. Because you can greet the new dawn tomorrow with fresh eyes if you want to. But it’s going to take quite a bit more than waiting for comets and longing for death. It’s going to take you gathering up all that passion, all that hope, all that love and getting out there and putting it into action. If you want to feel powerful take the reins, and resist anyone who says you can’t.

Just don’t throw away all those emergency provisions you stockpiled. They still may come in handy some day.

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About the Author: Davi Barker

In grade school Davi refused to recite the pledge of allegiance because he didn't understand what it meant. He was ordered to do as he was told. In college he spent hours scouring through the congressional record trying to understand this strange machine. That's where he discovered Dr. Ron Paul. In 2007 he joined the End The Fed movement and found a political home with the libertarians. The Declaration of Independence claims that the government derives its power “from the consent of the governed." He does not consent.