The Comfort of the Apocalypse

Jonathan Parker writes: Did somebody say, “Apocalypse?”

When things get dire, as in our current, terrifying pandemic, I hear the word “apocalypse” come up a lot more often. “Religious” people start saying, “Here it is” or “No, this isn’t it” (often you can guess which based on their given political or cultural background).

The “it” they mean is the cataclysmic “end of the world.” And they aren’t the only ones. When many of us think of what is already here and what is yet to come, it’s hard not to feel like the strings holding the world together are slipping.

Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, himself a recent survivor of COVID-19, recently looked at the dwindling resources of his poorest citizens and suggested more government action was immediately needed. Without it, he thought, the best word to capture the situation would be “apocalyptic.”

“If we don’t take dramatic steps to make sure that we alleviate some of the more significant financial burdens in people’s lives, my fear is it could get apocalyptic.” he said.

“Apocalyptic? You really mean that?” queried the interviewer.

“Yes, I mean, you have to understand that, in a city like Miami, we — after nine days, you know, without power, when there’s a hurricane, it gets — it can get pretty apocalyptic.”
Most of us reading blogs are well aware that our relative levels of peace and prosperity are not available to everyone in our communities or around the world. We work hard to create a world where those left out have increasing access to food, shelter, justice, and security.

But when a massive, seemingly-unstoppable force—especially one that is unseen—like this virus hits us, it can feel like everything we know is coming undone. We think we’rethe hope for others,who rightly want to know the kind of health and security we have. And if ours is falling apart, what’s going to be left? Will we see death and suffering like the world has never seen?