I’m encouraged that only about 15 percent of people surveyed in a recent poll believe the end of the world is around the corner. For hundreds of years people have been assured by prophecy writers that the end of the world was on the horizon. Every time there’s an earthquake, a war, or unusual weather patterns prophetic prognosticators assure their gullible subjects that the end is near. Many have been immobilized by the thought that an imminent end is in their future.
The Mayan calendar – it’s always something – got the attention of prophecy pundits and rattled a few cages with dire predictions of the end based on an ancient civilization’s rock carving. Why anyone would believe what an extinct civilization left behind when it couldn’t predict its own end is a mystery to me.
Many people hope against hope that the end will come because they can’t see any way that this mess of a world can be set right. Again, there’s nothing new in this feeling. Every generation had its “no way” prophets. They all had one thing in common – they’ve all been wrong. Not even two world wars did us in.
Fear of the future immobilizes us in the present. Too many good people have given up on our culture. They see too many obstacles to climb to have any hope that enough can be done to bring us back from what they perceive to be the eve of destruction.
Who would have thought that Communism would be routed without a bullet being fired? Many of us watched the Berlin Wall get longer, thicker, and higher over the years. Now it’s a distant memory.
In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev, then the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to tear down the wall as a symbol of increasing freedom in the Eastern Bloc.
“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
President Reagan’s words, although a faint echo from the past, give us hope that the future is not always as bleak as we make it. There were those who opposed tearing down the wall because they feared the future. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was one of them. She told Gorbachev:
“We do not want a united Germany. This would lead to a change to postwar borders and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security.”
We often fear what we do not know, and those hell-bent on our destruction take advantage of our fears. As odd as it may sound, the destroyers need us. They can only destroy what we make. They can’t make anything of their own. It’s like recycling. There wouldn’t be anything to recycle if the capitalists didn’t make stuff in the first place for the environmentalists to recycle.
We roll over too frequently and apologize too quickly. When will we begin to tell ourselves that we’ve had enough and do something about those who have stolen our capital and forced to live on leftovers?