© Another Day in the Country
Being a preacher’s kid, I was subjected to a whole lot of preaching. I do believe that my father’s favorite topic was the end of the world. He loved preaching from the book of Revelation and I teethed on full-size renditions of those beasts spoken about in the Bible.
The end of the world was going to be a fearsome thing, according to my father, with people fighting everywhere, choosing sides (right and wrong, left and right, evil and good, black and white). Oh, I forgot, “sheep and goats”, the description of the two major factions spoken about in the Bible. I always took the sheep to be the obedient, submissive, following type while the goats had horns (a sure sign of evil), were stubborn, and would butt heads over anything. Of course, I wanted to be counted among the sheep, although as I grew older I thought sheep tended to be rather dull and subject to group thinking.
My father was sure that the end of the world was immediate when he started preaching in the 1940s. There were signs all around us and the litany included wars, rumors of wars, famine, and catastrophic events which were too numerous to mention even in 1945.
Through every decade, there was a new and very specific list. War seemed to always be at the top and turmoil in the Middle East was always somewhere there in the middle.
“These cultural clashes had been going on since the days of Abraham,” my father was fond of saying. And he was right.
As a teenager, I was afraid of the end of the world. I was mistrustful of anyone from a different religion, who didn’t know “the truth,” and believed they would persecute (a big word for a teenager) the few true believers in the end time. As I’ve mentioned before in this column, I sincerely wondered if I’d ever get married, have children, get old — experience the normal progression of things.
For at least 50 years I listened to sermons on the end of the world and then decided I’d heard enough. But I discovered that it wasn’t only preachers who loved that topic. Now I heard numerous scientists discussing the end. Hollywood was, and still is, seemingly mesmerized by the subject. Television has taken up the idea.
Somewhere in the 1960s I had to come to terms with the concept of everything ending. I lost a friend in a car accident. I realized, not for the first time, that our personal end time could happen any time.
It was about this time that I was traveling in Mexico and bought a Mayan calendar, as an oddity, mostly for its intricate design and realized that the calendar stopped in the year 2012. I didn’t pay that much attention, chuckled at the notion of the world ending then and went on with my life. 2012 seemed an impossibly long time away. And then, blink, blink, it’s 2012 and I’m checking off the days as they tick down. What does it all mean?
I listen to discussions, have read books and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m ready for the end of the world, as we know it! I’m ready for some things to change. Is it possible that we could change our world, end how we’ve been doing things, try something new and different?
Instead of dividing ourselves into sheep and goats, good and bad, liberal and conservative, Catholic and Protestant, Republican and Democrat, I’d like to see us all decide to cooperate, kindly, searching for the best good, the highest thought, the most noble conclusion that resonates in our hearts.
Surprisingly, I discovered that there are hundreds of thousands of people praying for that end right now all over the world. They believe that this old earth just can’t go on in the same way with the pollution, the neglect, the wasting of its resources. Our ideas of what is precious, for instance, needs to shift. Clean air is precious. Pure water is precious. Trees are precious. Life is precious.
Like the angels of Revelation, holding back the winds of strife, let us all envision peace, kindness, goodness, fairness, renewal, hope for the future, believing that it will happen, right here, one day, in the country. Now’s the time!