Living Under the Threat of the Apocalypse

The measures taken to reduce CO2 emissions, combat climate change, protect rainforests, or halt the extinction of plants and animals will not counteract the global disaster we are heading towards. There will be some positive changes here and there in individual countries, but on a worldwide scale, humanity is already irretrievably lost.

The cause is the people's hope that governments and international institutions will solve these problems or that science will ultimately deliver the rescue. That hope will prove in vain.

What, then, should have been done to prevent this primarily human-made Apocalypse? Does the answer offer a possible rescue for the survivors? To clarify this, I give the example of the Christian religion (what I say further can also apply to other religions or ideologies). In natural circumstances, life is a struggle for life and survival of the fittest. This struggle means an ongoing war for survival. Levinas says about this: 'the passions and the so-called free desires - those left to chance once they are given free rein - end up in a world in which people are willing to eat each other alive. '  'To be' is war. To put an end to that, we need to be open to what is beyond Being.

Christianity, during certain times, has changed this struggle for life with great success. Not by forcing people from above to change their behavior, but by addressing each person personally to do the right thing for their fellow human beings, whoever it may be. The inspiration for the Good came and comes from outside of Being; a transcendent force has revealed it. This divine inspiration touches every person who is open to it. When so many people are affected by this supernatural inspiration, an entire nation or civilization can overcome the natural state in which biological forces are all-determining. According to Levinas, the hope of a society that is fully human lies in Jerusalem, here on earth, and not in pious thoughts. Besides Athena (Reason), there is Jerusalem (openness to the Revelation). Human civilization is the convergence of Athens and Jerusalem.

However, it goes wrong when religion acts like a secular institution and wants to exercise political power. This secularisation is at the expense of personal inspiration. People expect the salvation of the Church and renounce their own responsibility. Because such a Church deprives people of individual freedom, many drop out.

Applied to the above developments, we also see that the sense of personal responsibility is lacking. The political institutions, whether national or international, will not solve it for us. The question is whether people will be inspired to act as good stewards who care for planet Earth? It is already too late, so we now need to prepare for a world where there is insufficient food, where it gets far too hot, where the air is unhealthy, where there are water shortages, where floods cause death and destruction or where long periods of drought succeed each other.

We must try on a small scale to ensure that we can survive under these conditions. The image of a medieval abbey is obvious: a community of solidarity with a large vegetable garden, lands, orchards, and its own well. The monastery is self-sufficient, and all citizens contribute to this. The community clears the surrounding area and is a good steward. In the same way, we must organize our villages and cities. Old landscapes will be restored. Ancient traditions will revive.

Living in a self-sustaining, inclusive community that cares for the environment means the end of the industrial era. Social media, TV, the internet, tourism, and everything superfluous to live a sober life will be a thing of the past. Wealth no longer makes any sense. We have been delivered from the worship of Mammon. However, social and spiritual life will flourish. Then maybe God will come to live with us. After the Apocalypse comes the Kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital

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   © Juliaan Van Acker 2020