The literal meaning of Apocalypse is revelations and the literal meaning of Armageddon is Megiddo; however these terms are more often associated with the end of times. Even though the current belief is not the original one this is the one I am referring to because many people believe it anyway and they often base their decisions on this interpretation.
In many cases in the past there clearly have been examples on a smaller scale where Armageddon prophecies have encouraged people to pursue a course of action that often brings about their own destruction. Carl Sagan once described a simplified example where there was a prophecy of war following the passing of a comet. This was presented to the people who came to believe it. Then eventually a comet did come to pass and a leading member of society said this meant there would be war and they started beating the war drums and preparing for war. The other side heard of it or perhaps they also were familiar with the same prophecy and they also prepared for war which eventually led to a war and the appearance of a legitimate prophecy. This legitimacy begins to fall apart as soon as you look a little closer and realize that the prophecy helped encourage people to bring about the war and their own demise. A simalar historical example is when Croesus was told that if he attacked the Persians, he would destroy a great empire which he thought was good if it was the enemy he destroyed but he wound up destroying his own great empire.
There are many more recent examples of small scale self fulfilling Apocalypse prophecies including David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Lundgren and many more. All of these cult leaders pursued a course of action that helped bring about the destruction of their own cults often the death as well either by suicide or in a conflict of some sort. These were all partially encouraged by myths about Apocalypse that often tell people they should trust their leaders who will lead them into victory in a great battle. It is often hard to tell which leader is the Christ or the good messiah and which one is the anti-Christ or the false messiah. Either way people are expected to trust their leader without scrutiny. The scrutiny that they pass up on is what is needed to find out whether their leaders deserve trust. If they allow the scrutiny and the public understands the basics of any subject they don’t have to base their decisions on trust alone. They can often confirm a lot of what they need to make rational decisions. Trusting any leader without scrutiny is almost guaranteed to backfire.
There are also many more of these Apocalypse prophecies and the believers that expect them to come true and may act to bring them about. Some of the larger ones include more widely accepted organization like the Christian Zionists and other fundamentalists. These people seem to believe the way to bring about salvation is to bring about war in Israel so that it will usher in the return of Jesus and the final great battle that will be world wide. Intentional or not some activities have taken place that did stir up unnecessary conflict in Israel. One of the most blatant was when Arial Sharon went to the holy wall with guards in 1999 even though he knew it would anger the Palestinians whether it was to prove that he is within his rights to got their or for some other reason isn’t the important thing. In fact anyone should have had the right to go there but that doesn’t mean it was the best way to defuse the situation. What is important is that instead of trying to educate the public and try to settle the difference in a peaceful way he incited an uprising. The peace process came to a halt including the work that Seeds of peace were trying to accomplish. Further more they went on to elect the person who incited the riot to Prime Minister. It took years before they could partially recover from this and they are still in a constant state of turmoil because they continue to incite each other instead of trying to put it behind them.
The Apocalypse prophecies may also be making it easier to maintain the war on terror based on flimsy evidence in many cases. There may be a lot of people that are allowing their religion to influence their decisions when they do their part to support efforts to save the world by nonstop battle and secrecy. This may not be as clear cut but the implication is still there and even if it isn’t then it doesn’t change the fact that the best way to bring about peace in the long term is to learn how to get along and educate everyone who is capable of learning.
The Mass Media is doing a lot to increase the belief in these prophecies by focusing so much attention on it in what they consider an unbiased manner. The most effective way to be unbiased is to present all points of view including the views of the most educated people who do a good job researching any given subject and showing the work so the public understands and can come to rational conclusions. They have been putting a lot of attention on the Apocalypse lately but they haven’t been doing as much as I think they could have to debunk it rationally. They have also been putting a lot of attention on the Mayan 2012 doomsday scenario as well this could encourage more panic responses by some people who are less capable of sorting out the details and avoiding Apocalypse instead of bringing it about. This just seems to another end of days date of which we have already had dozens if not hundreds and they have often been accompanied with small scale cults that self destructed and often brought others with them. The only difference is that this one is being encouraged by the Mass Media on a larger scale and it is accompanied by many potential dangers which are legitimate like environmental damage, famine, war and other legitimate problems which should be dealt with in a rational manner by finding out the cause of each individual danger and preventing it. It does no good to create a panic that could raise emotions and make people more likely to follow the leader into war.
Instead of try to lead people into a great battle they should have been trying to find out how to avoid any battle at all if possible if not how to minimize the damage and build a society that will know how to get along better afterwards. This isn’t what Apocalypse prophecies generally do. The way to accomplish this is to study the battles in the past and more important the things that led up to these battles so that we can figure out what the causes of them are and how to prevent them. This hasn’t been done in the past based on prophecy so if people want to avoid wars and the destruction of the planet or lesser conflict they need to try something different.
Wars are not the only things predicted in many of these prophecies and some of the other things in some of these prophecies often seem to be coming true as well. If this is the case then it is important to organize the different threats whether or not they are part of a prophecy or not. Then regardless of what the threat is the best thing to do is to figure out what the cause of is and prevent it.
One example that has often been portrayed as a potential cause of Apocalypse is a potential asteroid impact. The people in the past couldn’t have known to predict this since they didn’t even know that asteroids existed but it has recently been reinterpreted as a possible cause of Apocalypse. This has been played up a lot in recent years yet it isn’t a new threat. The only thing that is relatively new is the ability of the public to understand it. There haven’t been any major impacts that could threaten civilization in thousands if not millions of years. There is no reason to panic about this in fact NASA has clearly outlined a two step effort to avoid it generally speaking. The first step is to set up a system to track asteroids and find them long before they hit the Earth. The second step involves experimenting with new technology to find out how to safely divert them. A third step should be added to educate the public better. NASA is financed by tax dollars they should do more to let the public know what is going on since they are working for the public. This doesn’t have to be expensive. They already have a massive amount of data available to their own scientist. They just need to make this available to the public in a way the people can understand it starting with the basics. In the past when I checked NASA’s web site it hasn’t been as organized as it could or should be and they have often changed it sometimes for the worse. They should set it up in the most organized way possible and keep it that way without fancy graphics to amaze the public. The most important thing should be to educate the public.
Other potential dangers should also be handled in the most rational manner possible whether any one believes it is associated with Apocalypse or not. The most important one may be the damage being done to the environment and the governmental and Mass Media control structure that is preventing this from being dealt with in a more rational manner.
This was first posted on Tripod on December 22 2009; it will be followed up by an updated post about an “Environmental Apocalypse” and a new post about the coming collapse of the insurance industry and the activities surrounding the “fiscal cliff” and other irrational behavior by the government and corporate America. For additional information about my older blogs see my index of past blogs from previous sites