Thursday, June 6, 2013
Chasing the Apocalypse?
In times like these, you sometimes feel reality is breaking down in the real world. As tornadoes rage across the heartland states, fires rage across the west coast and flood waters rise all over the world, daily disasters once reserved for science fiction visions of Armageddon seem to be fast becoming part of our daily reality. All of this was of course predicted decades ago by climatologists who warned that the carbon dioxide pollution we were creating by burning fossil fuels would create an intensifying atmospheric greenhouse effect, causing the Earth's temperature to steadily rise, feeding storm, flood, drought and fire.
And, as we find ourselves shifting into this new reality, how do people adapt? Some may take comfort in their established beliefs; they interpret the seemingly biblical events occurring all around us as God's judgment on our sinful lives. Just pray harder; All good children go to heaven.
Others don't seek comfort, though. They seek...what? Adventure? Risk? Danger? They pursue the ultimate danger; immense monsters out of the sky that appear like cosmic perversions of reality, tearing apart our fragile lives like harbingers of the apocalypse. I refer, of course, to the storm chasers. We've all followed them on the news of late, and mourned the tragic death of one of them. Somehow, we know that one tragedy, and others that may follow, won't keep those strange adventurers from chasing those demonic funnels wherever they appear.
Storms once seen maybe once in a century are fast becoming weekly occurrences. I have to wonder how our culture might evolve (or, devolve) across the next few centuries as rising seas swallow our coastal cities and intensifying storms decimate our inland towns. Will our comforting faith in a benign deity give way to resurgent pagan nature worship? Will the storm chaser become our cultural avatar? In ancient times, virgins were thrown into volcanoes or disemboweled on altars in sacrificial offering to Mother Earth and Father Sun. Will the young of the future chase storms as they now attend church? Will the lost virtue of humility return to our way of life as we again feel small and powerless in the face of nature?
The storm chaser. Hero and humble worshiper fused into one. Challenging the power of the storm and revering it at the same time. Is it danger that gives meaning to our hum drum lives? Or, is it some primal need to acknowledge something greater than ourselves? We may have created our own demons with our own pollution. The same technological sciences that created the apocalypse might someday give us the means to avert it. But, in the mean time... maybe our next revelation will be found in the twisting funnel of a storm.