Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Myopia and mortality
There is little motivation among societies’ leaders to take a long term view when establishing policies. That’s why we have environmental disasters, genocide, diseases, poverty, multinational corporations overruling the interest of ordinary folks, bank collapses etc etc. Everything is measured in terms of their own lives and their own comforts. It is not just that they want to see immediate outcomes and benefits and bask in the glory of their achievements, it is, it seems to me, to do with a deep-seated psychosis at their own mortality. Human beings are egocentric and want as much history as possible encompassed within their own existences.
I was shunted down this train of thought when watching a programme on the history of soothsaying and the great prophets of doom. Nostradamus and the Book of Revelations, for example. The Bible Belt in the US has an alarmingly high population of believers of prophecies. In fact there is a two century tradition of Christian ‘prophets’ who forecast the end of days but always within their own life times! Thus they prepared their congregation for a rapture, an Apocalypse, an uplifting of their souls to God. When it didn’t happen they simply changed the date of the world’s extinction, claiming a simple error of calculation. Their credulous congregations swallowed it.
And the end hasn’t happened yet. Obviously.
Here in Ghana and wherever else the evangelists have hooked their pernicious doom-mongering claws into fearful people, whipping up frenzies during church services and running bible classes that promote its every written word as the truth, they proclaim that the prophecies in Revelations are about to happen now, in their lives, thousands of years after they were written by a mad, hermit isolate. In fact Revelations was just another example of doom-laden prophecy limited to the immediate world of its writer(s). Not beyond. Not for now. It related entirely to the horrors of Roman (Nero’s most likely) sadistic occupation and fears for the end of their race. Not 9/11, Stalin, Hitler or a present day rise of the Antichrist.
It is too much for men and women to believe that the important events of humanity’s extinction will fall outside their three score years and ten. They want them to happen now. Not even a generation or two down the line.