End of the line for the doom­say­ers?

Friday - - HUMOUR - Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world but later de­cided to leave it as it is

H ave you no­ticed that we are not swamped with as many end-of-civil­i­sa­tion sto­ries these days? Touch wood. Even the mod­ern Mayans know that the world did not end in 2012 (prob­a­bly a print­ing mis­take all those cen­turies ago).

And as­ter­oids, pre­dicted to col­lide with the earth and de­stroy any­thing that moved (which means many teenagers with iPads would sur­vive) have some­how taken the wrong turn and ended up else­where.

Those reg­u­lars on street cor­ners who held up plac­ards warn­ing people that the world was about to end in a week/fort­night/month/year and there­fore we must re­pent – or at least re­turn our li­brary books – are no longer part of the land­scape.

Oh, of course, news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion chan­nels scream when a foot­ball team loses that the end of civil­i­sa­tion as we know it is here, but that doesn’t count. Nor does it when the pun­dits say it’s all over sim­ply be­cause one po­lit­i­cal party or the other has ei­ther won or lost an elec­tion.

Whether the world ends with a bang or a whim­per, one thing is more or less cer­tain: it will end. But if you be­lieved those who look for a cloud in ev­ery sil­ver lin­ing, this was set to hap­pen sooner rather than later. And yet…

Doom­say­ers who pre­dicted that the uni­verse would be swal­lowed up in the search for Higgs bo­son must know that not only is the bo­son safe, but Higgs him­self is fine, thank you, and a No­bel lau­re­ate to boot. What about those who said at the turn of the century that planes would fall out of the sky and rec­om­mended that we take all our sav­ings out of the bank and put the money in our mat­tresses be­cause you can al­ways trust mat­tresses but you can’t al­ways trust com­put­ers? Es­pe­cially those that can­not dis­tin­guish be­tween 1999 and 2099.

We haven’t been taken over by aliens with strange ac­cents and shape­less bod­ies, nor have com­put­ers elected one of their own to rule us. Ro­bots have gen­er­ally left us alone. Strange an­i­mals, the re­sult of strange ex­per­i­ments,

Whether the world ends with a bang or a whim­per, one thing is cer­tain – it will end

haven’t quite be­gun to grab the head­lines yet, al­though the story of a mouse’s ear be­ing grafted on to a goat’s head or some­thing does sug­gest there are pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Per­haps that is why, safe in our knowl­edge of safety, we turn to the movies for dis­as­ters. Cities blow­ing up, dead folk com­ing to life, vam­pires hav­ing a party where you bring your own drink and so on. We don’t want to be scared, merely re­as­sured.

Here’s a news­flash: The end of the world is not nigh. If you don’t be­lieve me, let’s syn­chro­nise our watches and check again in about a century from now.

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