SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what Iíve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
I had to memorize that poem in grammar school and I've never forgotten it. It wasn't until high school, however, that I got it. And really, no matter what you take from that little verse, you still end up with the same thing; thinking about the end of the world.
Martin Rees, Britain's honorary astronomer royal, has put the odds of the apocalypse at 50/50. It's almost laughable to read anything into that - isn't life or death a 50/50 chance every day, anyhow?
Does it really matter which way the world will end? Whether we go out with a bang - say, a bomb big enough to kill all of us, set off by some deranged Dr. Evil wannabe - or with a whimper - slowly dying off one by one via a mutant virus run amok - in the end we still die.
What's the use of speculating how or when the world will end? After all, people have been doing that for centuries anyhow.
When I was in high school, we were told the world would end in May of 1980. Something about the alignment of the planets causing massive tidal waves and earthquakes and mass destruction. I was pissed because graduation would be a month away at that point. Imagine going through your whole primary school career, only to have your final reward taken away by some stupid armaggedon?
Various End Days groups have announced the end of the world hundreds of times. The days would pass without incident, and a new date would be announced. Some of them said the earth would just blow up. Others claimed there would be a rapture, and just the good hearted souls would float up to nirvana, to live their second life in glory, while the rest of us stayed down here and turn the world into a Hell's Angel's festival, maiming and killing until we all just offed each other and there was nothing left but the charred remains of civilization.
Really, there's no good way for the world to end. I've seen enough armageddon movies to know that meteors and nuclear explosions would be painful and messy. Same with an ice age. I'd rather not freeze to death, thank you.
I envision the end to be not an end, but a new beginning, somewhat like The Stand, where survivors of whatever disaster befalls us split into factions and begin the divided earth all over again. Religious zealots here, heathens there.
Fire, ice, monkeypox, West Nile Virus, SARS, nuclear weapons, global warming, colliding planets, mad scientists accidently eliminating the gravity field, an army of clones run amok, Darth Vader blowing us up to prove a point to Ben Affleck as he tries to keep the moon from flying out of orbit - there's a million ways for our species to be silenced. None of them sound very promising.
Personally, I'd rather die at the hands of science than at the hands of hate.