The wind-whipped tree limbs howl as the waters rise. The light goes dim and sleet begins its insistent tap on the windows. Is it an end-of-March weather flip-flop or something more sinister: 2012 in 2010, Hell unleashed, the Apocalypse? Bring on the locusts.
Blame today’s headlines: In Moscow, a bomber strikes another public transportation system. In Haiti, the tropical heat continues to bake the overworked volunteers and underfed survivors who vie for any kind of support or sustenance, physical or emotional. Karzai thumbs his nose at Obama and embraces Amadinejad, just as last week Netanyahu thumbed his nose at us and embraced more building. In the Congo, victims of torture most desperately need mental health services. Back here again, misconceptions about health care legislation loom while insurance companies hire lawyers to look for loopholes. Anger simmers, although articles assure us most people don’t make the step from thinking violent thoughts to doing violent deeds but then, oops, here come the Hutaree, a militia group of self-identified Christian warriors who, unable to wait any longer, have decided to stage their own end of days party.
The name, which is invented, suggests they are avid followers of sci-fi and have seen “Avatar” more than once but their mission is far from peaceful. The group, based in Michigan, is preparing to assassinate police officers, whom they see as “foot soldiers” to the federal government which, don’t you know, is working for the Antichrist to establish a New World Order. The Antichrist, according to the group’s website, might be Spanish physicist and former secretary general of NATO Javiar Solana, which gives this whole thing an international spin. Solana, a leading advocate for a European Union, does favor international cooperation; certainly the educated and soft-spoken foreign policy expert is a sophisticated choice for the role of all that is unholy. But I digress. The Hutaree philosophy blends “fear of a conspiracy to create a one-world government with a belief that a war is imminent between Christians and the Antichrist, as described in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.” The group has been training in military-style exercises and preparing to defend themselves. Defense obviously includes offensive stealth attacks in order to stir the pot and encourage an uprising.
We know why this happens – or the experts among us believe they do: insecurity, fear of the unknown, unemployment, a sense of not belonging — all these things serve as catalysts for such groups and have since the beginning of human history. And yet, it’s difficult not to imagine this is bigger, worse, more imminent, more frightening. What if one of the many conspiracy theories turns out to be true? Or what if one terrorist group or another decides to do something really big, so big that it will scythe through great swathes of civilization as we know it? Are we doomed? The short answer is: probably not, or at least our demise is not imminent. That doesn’t exempt us from vigilance or excuse us from the rigorous application of rationality. But what I know, after surviving cold wars and heated rhetoric, is that everything from the headlines to the footnotes change over time. The forecast is for sun and milder temperatures.