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Perhaps The World Should End

Apparently, as we all know, the Mayan calendar tediously predicts the end of the world this Friday - or, rather, tediously, the media of the West has inundated us with stories and films about this for the last few years.  The end is rather an anti-climax.  Except, a horrific massacre of children in America reminds us that doom is not farcical, but horrifically potential, in all our lives as individuals, if not as whole communities; after all, America is in mourning but it has survived this onslaught.  Calls for gun control are worthy but a little naive, though gun control is an essential step for America as it seeks to become a mature and civilised nation - naive, because American culture, and by extension, the cultures of Britain, Canada, Australia, and Europe - are exceptionally violent.  As Frankie Goes To Hollywood said about thirty years ago, "sex and violence are the new gods."  Not quite new.  About as new as the Mayans, probably.  However, the point of this post is, as a Catholic, I see the world as fallen  I see hope in this recognition.  Atheists too often see the world's problems as the fault of others - other laws, other politicians, other beliefs.  But the fault is in all of us; as humans, we are partly evil.

Now, what world would Satan build for us if he were real?  A world of war, pornography, brutal financial systems, polluting multinationals destroying the world's ecosystems, random killings, and massive inequality?  A world of hate, terrorism, and a cheapened private sphere, where poetry, prayer, contemplation and down time are almost impossible to locate amidst a global Internet babble?  Yes, this world of ours, this Western world of capitalism, and empire-built declining prosperity, has its Satanic mills and military-industrial complex.

But, there is a God, too, so we also get things like joy, hope, creativity, sport, love, giving, art, music, medicine, and philosophy.  Violence is in the heart of our entertainment worlds, our imaginations: the biggest grossing film of the year in the UK is Skyfall, a violent fantasy.  The most popular TV shows are Homeland, filled with gun battles and espionage, and The Killing, filled with sadism and torture.  I found these shows entertaining - because I am human, a sinner.  But that does not mean I think they are ideal.  I regret the time I waste on cheap popular culture, but it is hard to focus on uplifting fare all the time; though we must seek virtue.  One concern we must have is with these video games, best-selling thrillers, movies, and shows, that constantly emphasise serial killers, hit men, and snipers, sold to us constantly in the media.  No wonder children want to take up arms, and shoot people.  This is a sick world we inhabit.  I hope it won't end on Friday - but if it did, what would be lost?  A lot of good, yes, but some evil, as well.


David Clarke said…
What I find particularly bizarre about the whole Mayan calendar thing is the fact that the actual end of the world as we know it - the impending environmental disaster which is hurtling towards us even faster than many experts had feared - gets little to no coverage.

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Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

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