Tuesday, May 17, 2011

it's the end of the world, as we know it.....

On Saturday evening, I drove into downtown LA to attend a fabulous theatre piece that some dear friends of mine were in. As I was stuck on the 5 North, slowly crawling to the on-ramp of the 101, my gaze happened upon a billboard. This billboard, to be exact:

Now. I do not consider myself an alarmist. I'm not particularly superstitious (outside of hockey). And I've never considered God (Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, et.al) to be a jerky douchebag. But I will gladly admit to being anti-apocalyptic; I am staunchly, irrevocably, and vehemently against the apocalypse. And yet, this billboard freaked me out. 

But I didn't let it get to me - I've become very good at ignoring the hysterical fear that is apocalyptic propaganda. I went to my friends' performance, and had a lovely time. I thought nothing of the billboard, or the ominous May 21st due date, until Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. When one of my little 6th grade cherubims innocently said during check-in: 

"Did you know the world's going to end on May 21st?" 

I didn't say anything. I avoid touchy subjects like religion, politics, and boyfriends/girlfriends like the end-of-days plague. But something really bothered me about my 12 year old student saying that - not the religion - but the notion that an entire generation and culture of children believe that the world is going to end before they reach 14. Eerily, Friday's check-in question was "What's something that scares you?" The second most popular answer, after creepy-crawlies (insects, snakes, spiders, etc, etc): the Mayan 2012 prophesy. At least 1/3 of my kids think that the world is going to end suddenly, violently, frighteningly before any of them can graduate the 8th grade, enter high school, or have a job. 

Depressingly, many of them (I perceive), believe this so totally that they don't really see the point of school. And they're right - what's the point of learning things if the end is going to come in just over a year?? What's the point of anything at all?! 

When they tell me this, and ask my opinion (about 2012), I simply say that there's no clear outcome to the Mayan prophesy - it really just states that it'll be the end of the third age - nothing more, nothing less. They tend to just give me a confused look, and then I'll say something like, "everything will be okay." They accept this, and go back to talking out of turn, or hitting the person next to them.

Regardless of my own vehement objection towards the apocalypse - seeing my students so resigned to accepting THE END OF ALL THINGS angers me beyond reckoning. Not because of their resignation - they don't know any better - but because it proves how much of an oppressor Fear is; how dangerous a weapon. And then I think about the last 10 years, and how much we've been told to fear - Muslims, anyone from the Middle East, bacteria, nuclear weapons, biological weapons, asteroids, our president's nationality (really?!), even Communists and Fascists (still??) - and each one of these things are seemingly beyond our control. It's no wonder that people are buying guns, stock-piling supplies, and praying for the Rapture as soon as possible -WE'RE A WRECK!  And yet, the things that we do have control over - global warming, alternative energy solutions, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, gay marriage, the economy - we do nothing about because we're so fucking exhausted from worrying about all the giant question marks, all the boogie men making bumps in the night, that we destroy logic and reason. Or we relate the fixables to the unfixables:

"You think WE created global warming?! You must be a Commie! Or a Fascist. OR BOTH!"
"You believe that people should have the freedom to marry anyone they choose?! You're going to hell!"
"It's those damn Muslims who've ruined our economy!"

I'm tired of the fear. I'm tired of the media. I'm tired of zealots. But most of all, I'm sad that my 6th graders are growing up without hope. 

So you know what? I hope the Rapture does come, in so much as it sucks up all those "deserving" and  "repentant" souls, and takes them off and away to wherever it is they'll go. Just so long as they leave the rest of us in peace, calm, and tolerance. That's what the Jews believe the end-of-days to be - not a catastrophic event, but a culture change brought forth by good deeds and understanding. Now that's an apocalypse I can support.

............I'm seriously thinking of returning to my Jewish roots.

In other news, here's the top 10 things you should know about my life in the last two months:
1. I got into Grad School! In CANADA!
2. I got a SCHOLARSHIP for grad school in CANADA!
3. I took a week-long visit to Oregon over spring break.
4. I turned 29.
5. I've been working on bringing SOC up to the 21st Century.
6. I have 2.5 weeks to get 95 children into performance mode.
7. I'm organizing volunteers for a fundraiser.
8. Because of 5, 6, and 7, I've been more stressed out than normal.
9. I've been wanting to write a blog about ethics vs. morals, but haven't found the time.
10. I'll be SO HAPPY when June 10th arrives. 


Lira said...

Amen to your ideal apocalypse. But what I'm excited about is how on May 22, your kids are going to learn that fear mongering is just that, that their world will not end, and to question religion.

I myself could only be friends with those who were raised religious, questioned it, and then said, you know what, I like these parts of it, but I hate those parts, so to heck with it. I'm going to just be a GOOD person and that is that.

Those who question what we're taught to be the LAWS OF GOD are the more loving, more accepting kind, don't you think? We can spot hypocrisy a mile away and don't want to be associated with it.

Peace and Love.

Phoenix said...

I think Lira's comment sort of covers all the ground I wanted to. Fear blows, and it's sad that it's the loudest voice in the room, but time itself has proven, again and again, that we have nothing to be afraid of but fear itself.

Love and hugs to my bestie.