Poor old Harold Camping, the radio evangelist who predicted the end of the world on May 21 and, when that didn't work, recalibrated his vision to Oct. 21 ... which, as it turned out, was also wrong.
I suppose "poor" is a poor choice of words since many of Camping's followers sent him donations ... a fact I find hard to understand since the end of the world was right around the corner: Those going to heaven would hardly have need of money or possessions ... just like those headed for hell... so a transfer of goods sounds like a waste of time to me.
Less ludicrous than all of this, perhaps, is the encroaching sense that things are going to hell in a hand basket. Riots, demonstrations, increasing economic uncertainty, a shameless political leadership, and a growing malaise that good-news gurus find increasingly difficult to thwart -- all of this seems to bring a common-sensical quality to those who are preparing for the meltdown of social order.
A friend sent along this news story about three survival-goods stores that are seeing an uptick in business. In the 1950's and 1960's, there was a similar uptick in the building of fallout shelters against the day when the governmentally-promoted nuclear attack by the Russians might occur. Guns, supplies, air-filtration systems ... and a good field of fire were part of such plans. But there is something less hysterical about the current safety measures. If everyone is thrown back on self-reliance, as the Republicans seem determined to implant, how are people likely to act? A sense of community safety and nourishment is central to a civil society and civility is a dwindling commodity.
I'm not planning to send my goods and chattels to Harold Camping, but neither do I see a reason to put my faith in the capabilities of those charged with the safety and nourishment of a nation. I can see why some might hope for heaven but prepare for hell.
It's hard not to note, among other things ...
-- No new grants for AIDS, TB and malaria in developing nations will be made this year due to the economic downturn.
-- Fitch downgraded Portugal's bonds to "junk." Egypt suffered a similar blow from Standard & Poors. Money is founded belief and belief is sagging.
-- Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said that, if elected, he would back Israel if it came up with a credible plan to attack Iran, a country the U.S. seems bound and determined to make war on.
-- Unsettled circumstances continue to plague Syria, Egypt, Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries. And that doesn't include the war in Afghanistan and uncertainty in Iraq. The Middle East produces much of the oil used in the West.
-- A court ruled that Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, would not be allowed to file for bankruptcy in its attempt to avert a state takeover of the financially bereft city.
And there are other events that could be cited -- each, of itself, not personally compelling, perhaps. For the moment, I've got mine, so why concern myself with events and countries and happenings that are not in my backyard? Perhaps I am just being a sissy. Or perhaps others are just being overly sanguine. Nevertheless, things don't feel right to me. It's like shoveling out a pig pen ... this shit really does stink worse than other shit.