On April 6, 2014 the world will end.
Well, maybe not. But that’s an intriguing idea, isn’t it? A specific date that all life on this planet will forever be altered in a dramatic fashion. Doomsday, End Times, Revelation… an Apocalypse. We’re all drawn to that idea in some way, intrigued at knowing the eventual fate of all things. It’s embedded into our DNA and every generation believes they are the ones on the brink, ready to finally witness “The End.”
Yet, it has never happened. For millennia we’ve been obsessed with this idea of an apocalypse, and it has yet to occur. The Book of Revelation was written almost two thousand years ago, and people believed it to be something that was close at hand. Other religions have foretold apocalypses in the near future and none have occurred. There are countless examples of apocalyptic cults that have specific dates that never came to be. October 22, 1844; December 21, 1954; January 1, 2000; May 27, 2012; and December 21, 2012 were all supposed to be Judgement Days, but the earth continued uninterrupted.
However, people are not deterred, and the notion of an apocalypse remains popular. The apocalypse genre in movies and TV shows is so big it has numerous sub-genres. There are zombie apocalypses (Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead), alien apocalypses (Independence Day, Falling Skies), robot apocalypses (Terminator, The Matrix), comedy apocalypses (This is the End, The World’s End), indie-drama apocalypses (Last Night, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), global warming apocalypses (The Day After Tomorrow), and even lack of power apocalypses (Revolution). There are also actual reality shows about people prepping for the apocalypse, including Doomsday Preppers, Surviving Zombies, and Livin’ for the Apocalypse.
In past decades the nuclear war apocalypse genre was big (Dr. Strangelove, The Day After, Testament). This apocalypse obsession was understandable, since the world probably was at its closest point to actually being destroyed during the later half of the twentieth century. There were numerous points during the sixties, seventies, and eighties that if a few different decisions were made, none of us would be here right now. Yet, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the fear of a nuclear apocalypse has waned. However, our obsession with apocalypses has simply changed to other ways we can destroy ourselves.
But why are we so drawn to this idea of the world ending?
I think a big part of it is humanity’s search for meaning. We are all thrown into existence and have no idea why we are here or where we are going. Yet, seeing the end might reveal things to us. While the word apocalypse now usually refers to a cataclysmic event that destroys the world, its original meaning was “disclosure of knowledge.” The apocalypse lifts the veil and reveals to us what everything truly means.
To the religious minded, this would mean God orchestrating the final plan for humanity and the earth… usually some type of battle of good and evil. To those that eschew religion, the apocalypse works just as well for revealing truth, as the total, meaningless destruction of the earth plays very well into an absurdist view of existence. Everyone can read their view of the universe in a potential apocalypse, that is until one actually occurs.
I also think there might be some sense of boredom that inspires us to imagine grand events. We all live fairly hum drum lives most of the time, existing in our small moment in history. Yet, what if our lives weren’t just a random point on a long timeline, but overlapping with the biggest event to ever occur. Just by experiencing the apocalypse we would truly be part of history. As the saying goes, may you live in interesting times.
Going back to April 6, 2014, what if that is the apocalypse? What if the forces of the universe somehow chose a lowly blogger to be the prophet of the end times? Ummm… yeah, I’m laughing right there with you, especially anyone reading this after that date. But, while April 6th most likely will not be “The End,” given a long enough timeline, the apocalypse will happen in some shape or form. We’d like to think humanity will go on forever, but our end in inevitable. Everything that we have built and accomplished as a species will one day be dust, forgotten into the recesses of time.