Sunday, December 23, 2012

Live another day

My first thought was to brush this blog off for the evening and plead with myself via text to only have to write about half of what I usually do. While I still might beg for that luxury, seeing as I've been asleep for about three hours already and at the moment my eyes feel so heavy that it's like an elephant is sitting on my face (hey, that's a weird simile, I don't even know what mean exactly), I think I missed something yesterday that I easily could've written about.

Though I may not do this topic justice in my loopy and groggy state, I guess it's better than forgetting to discuss it at all.

I think somewhere in a very small and easily silenced part of my heart, I always believed that there was some truth in doomsday prophecies.

Admittedly, that feeling became less and less prevalent as the years went on. Back in high school when the idea of 2012 was sparking the creation of Hollywood blockbusters and introducing Nostradamus specials to the History Channel, the conspiracy theorist in me sort of masochistically (and sadistically) wanted to believe something like that could happen. Not because I wanted to die or wanted anyone to die. And I certainly didn't want it to occur through tragedy. But sometimes mankind just enjoys latching onto fears like that. Otherwise why would there be so much literature, so many movies and so much of an obsession with the "zombie apocalypse"?

The idea of the end of the world has boggled us for as long as mankind has produced rational thought. It is an inherently rational thought. We all perish at some point, thus we all consider the possibility of death in our lives. The idea of an end of the species - even one as developed as ours - seems inevitable. It happened to the dinosaurs, and they were larger and more indestructible, right?

What isn't rational is trying to figure out when that will happen.

But it hasn't stopped us from trying.

I remember a time in seventh grade when there had been some (admittedly scientific) doomsday-esque freak out on the news about an asteroid coming towards our planet. The world shuddered for a second, but then returned to its business.

Everyone except me, I suppose.

At 12 years old, I didn't want to die overnight at the fault of some rinky dinky piece of rock. It didn't seem fair that I'd spent around half my life working hard and trying to do all I could to get to a good college (yes, I was thinking about college at as early as eight or nine years old), only to have my efforts destroyed by something like that.

In class, one of my teachers talked about the report. She did nothing to quell my fears. I imagine the rest of my peers had already gotten over it a minute later, but for the rest of my class period I was dwelling.

That evening I lay in bed thinking and thinking about "the end." It petrified me, that fear of never having a chance to accomplish all that I want in life. How dare nature try and thwart my plan!

The next morning I woke up and it was almost as if nothing had happened. I still remembered wondering about the factual accuracy and the likelihood of dying in some sort of catastrophic disaster like that. But having lived through the night, I didn't truly care anymore.

A similar situation could have played out in 2012 on the evening of December 20th all the way until the clock struck 12 am on December 22nd. But luckily my logical mind has developed to the point of no longer worrying about conspiracies.

Still, it makes me wonder how I might've reacted to this sort of situation if I was eight years younger. I doubt it would have been a very pretty sight to behold.

And that makes me angry. Because it's never fair, even when it's something silly like a doomsday conspiracy, to throw around ideas of death when there are children involved. Admittedly, whoever the journalist was who reported on the story that I heard about the possibility of an asteroid hitting Earth, probably didn't consider the ramifications of their actions on a sad little 12 year old in southern California. They were reading off a teleprompter in a studio. No skin off their back.

And it's not their fault. They're selling the news.

At the very least, it's the job of people in positions of power around children to be frank about these conspiracies. If my teacher had not just spoken about the risk of asteroids in our atmosphere and instead told her students that there was no reason to be afraid, maybe that would've saved me the trauma of that single night's lost sleep. It wasn't even a weekend, either.

I admit that in my life I've been somewhat impressionable. I open myself up to the influence of others too freely sometimes, forgetting that most people don't have my best interest (or any interest other than their own) at heart.

But on a day like December 21st, when I was old enough to no longer worry about dying in a cataclysmic world event, I worried instead for the children who hadn't been told they had nothing to worry about. Because there's nothing like being in the helpless place of a 12 year old told that the next day you may no longer be alive. If that's the case, why did I spend so much of my time doing homework rather than playing?

So, in moving forward, I hope that if we ever develop some other inane theory about the end of the world, let us do so in a constructive manner. We can make History Channel specials all we want, but we should supplement them with honest discussions with others - particularly children. Because it's truly unfair to let the most trusting among us put our faith in news reports that convince us that we may not live to see another day. It's a situation worse than any horror film. It's just not fair.

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