Last night I was listening to a radio report on my way home from work which detailed with tiring accuracy (thanks PBS+NPR) the current reality and possible future eventualities of polar ice melting.
It was a briliant piece of scientific speculation, if I’ve ever heard one. When the words “likely” and “probable” are used more that “does” and “is”, then you know you’ve got a live one.
But it got me thinking; there is no better position to be in than that of an alarmist.
Your whole job is to go around raising doomsday concerns which are unprovable and immeasurable. Then when what you prophecy doesn’t happen, you congratulate yourself and all your buddies for averting disaster. If the doomsday does occur, you were obviously right all along and just couldn’t get everyone’s attention fast enough, or it was just too late…
What a convenient position that is!
It works on both sides of the politcal spectrum, too. It’s not just for you right wingers to make fun of the global warming nuts. It’s also for you terrorism crazies, too.
How many times have we been told that America is “less safe” without a comprehensive do-what-you-want-when-you-want-it domestic surveillance program that circumvents all oversight and governmental checks and balances? How many times have we been told that America is safer solely because we haven’t been attacked again?
Absent of fact, everything is conjecture.
Sad to say, this is more tragically played out in the religious arena with the nutty religious leaders who continually predict the ‘end of the earth’, and then have random explanations why it didn’t occur on 7/7/07. (or whenever) Religious alarmist (even in my own religion) scare me the most.
Even my faith’s fixation with gathering your “year’s supply” has turned from a ‘we’ve got to have enough to feed the world at the second coming’ to a more moderate expectation of self-suffiency, preparedness, and guarding against possible personal or community disaster.
Taking this one step further, let’s talk about that ‘great and dreadful day.’
As a Christian, I believe in that reality, but I find it slightly awkward that every generation of Christianity has assumed it would be in their lifetime, or shortly thereafter. Even the early apostles thought such a return would happen quickly. The early LDS people were whipped up in a continual frenzy that they would be caught unaware, and wanted specific details of the Second Coming (and strangely, early church leaders often obliged them).
I’m not saying it couldn’t happen at any time, I’m just saying that it makes absolutely no sense sitting around thinking about it. Essentially, our ‘second coming’ could be tomorrow – I could be hit by a bus and my probationary time would be over with – so there.
Which leads me to my final point (which hopefully will tie this all together). Alarmists are really just trying to do one thing: get people to do what they want. Alarmism is simply a way to wave your hands in the air loudly and wildly, trying to get some critical mass of people to do what you say. (which totally goes with/against my theory that we all do what we want)
Well, I’m not biting. Well, at least not on every hook, anyway.