Doomsday Merchants

A dystopian novel of hope
A dystopian novel of hope
Everyone, including myself with the release of my book After the Flood, is on the doomsday wagon. The warming climate is fertile ground for flights of the imagination, predictions stemming from depressed minds, and expressions of anger at the fools who brought the world to this pass.

I recall the last time we were in a hole like this: it was when some smart ass suggested that since computers only had two digits to recognize a year, the moment we passed the next year ending in 99 all hell would break loose. And it didn’t. But in the meantime we got into a panic, threw out old computers, bought new ones; we spent billions of dollars examining existing computer code for those elusive two digits, trying to extend them to four by the frenetic deadline of midnight Dec 31st 1999. And at that doomsday hour, the bells tolled in Nathan Phillips Square and the bands played and people hugged each other in the cold to bring in the New Year, which dawned as normal without collapsing upon us. And the lights continued to stay on. And those doomsday gurus just yawned and went onto the next big thing.

So now we have prognostications of the ice caps melting, the financial crisis of 2008 boomeranging to drag us all into debt and penury, jobs vanishing, Western Europe and North American soon to be overrun by Moslems because their birthrates are eight to a family while affluent white people are producing only 1.6 per family—not enough to sustain the Caucasian race and its culture. Bring it on, man—we need more gloom here! How about H1N1 that is going to wipe out the young and the old, leaving only us middle•aged guys, who have all the money and do not want to have any more kids, trying to solve our population (or lack of population) problem? And then there are the forest fires, the droughts, tsunamis, rogue states stockpiling nuclear weapons, and that fragile stock market burping and farting and threatening to go into freefall, only this time there are no bailout monies because they have all been “allocated.”

Doomsday merchants thrive because mankind does not stop to think. We love to follow the herd. “Fire!” shouts one man in a packed arena and everyone rushes for the doors leaving hundreds trampled, injured or dead – more than the fire would have taken out. “Milk raises cholesterol,” says a medical study, and the dairy industry goes into tailspin. Then advertisements start appearing showing celebrities with their upper lips crusted in milk, and the industry corrects itself. And now the wine industry is suffering because someone said that women who drink wine every day risk developing breast cancer.

And what of the people who stop, turn against the herd and ask questions to try and stop this lunacy? We crucify them (Jesus), poison them (Socrates), assassinate them (Gandhi), place them under house arrest (Suu Kyi) and question their legitimacy despite winning the Nobel (Obama).

Yes, this is the era of the doomsday people, and cataclysm is in fashion. Get on board guys, or you will not be “with it”, not be “cool!” And what is more unsettling is that I seem to have unconsciously joined this herd by writing a book about a giant flood! The only redemption for me is the tag line my publisher decided to post on the cover of my book after he read the manuscript: he called it “a dystopian novel of hope.” Perhaps, as I wrote that book, something inside me was screaming for release from the clutches of the doomsday merchants.

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