So in a fit of indulgence, I have been watching some zombie movies. Which made me think of all the apocalyptic sorts of movies and books I have seen and read over the years.
Oddly enough, it does not really matter how the world "ends - be it by alien invasion, natural disasters, zombies, economic collapse, or just good old armed conflict. Every one - every darn one - of the presentations of these events are largely the same. That is to say, pretty much disastrous for everyone.
Without fail, not one - zilch - of these visions of the future ends with anyone or any civilization being in a better state than it is now. In fact, depending on your choice of world ending events, the odds are pretty small anyone makes it as all - zombies, it seems, can run much more quickly than they did in the old days and societies tend to break down much faster than they used to. In not one of these dystopian visions - even something as benign as The Running Man - does society change for the better.
Yet for most, they miss the lesson of the entertainment.
Buried in the midst of all these disasters is a crucial message: civilized society is a fragile thing. Any sort of significant disruption has impacts which can quickly escalate into a situation that creates real harm and lasting damage to the social structure.
We see natural and man-made disasters (a.k.a war) now, but even these in all their shock and rawness are mitigated simply by the fact that somewhere, there is still a civilized world to watch and give aid. Imagine a situation where these things happen - and instead of ships and helicopters and trucks bringing aid, there is nothing but the local resources available.
And yet millions - maybe billions? - continue to exist as if such things never occur - and could never occur.
A short-sightedness has infected much of the world, a short-sightedness that says that we are on a continuing slope upward, ever progressing to a utopia that lies just beyond our reach. To suggest otherwise - that perhaps we are not so much on a slope as on a parabola - is considered an odd affection at best, dangerous at worst. But what does it say about ourselves that we constantly entertain ourselves with a subject that in some fashion, has all too real a chance of occurring - and yet treat it as if such things are never to occur?
We believe that between us and such a future lies a floor of concreted. How shocking for so many when one day the discover it was never more than a thin layer of ice that has begun to melt.