And I feel fine…
Perhaps you pay attention to Rapture believers and financial doomsayers. Perhaps you don’t. That kind of thinking filters back to all of us in one way or another. The ads on Facebook often link to sponsored articles from people selling the End of the World As We Know It in One Form or Another. Click through and you find yourself in a Rabbit Hole of dire beliefs. Most often you’re being sold something. “Put all your money into gold,” the articles warn. “The coming economic crash will destroy all your paper investments!”
As evidenced by the language in the article excerpt posted above, a worldwide financial meltdown is frequently and readily predicted by both trustworthy and scammy sources. People get rich selling the notion that horrific consequences will occur when societies break down. The scammers include those faux religious types who wrote the Left Behind series of books that made millions bilking people into thinking The Rapture is real. But when you look behind the curtain, all you find is a bunch of money-grubbing bastards looking to steal $15 from your wallet.
And yes, we’re told to Buy Gold because it’s the one substance on earth that supposedly holds value. I always laugh when I think about this. Imagine a shivering runner, cyclist or triathlete standing on the corner in some post-apocalyptic scenario. The light posts have all fallen down. The concrete is broken into pieces. Storefronts have collapsed and wild animals are running through the streets.
Yet here stands our athletic hero clutching the aero handlebars of a Specialized Shiv. In the other hand is a precious bar of 99.9% pure gold. This is their supposed salvation. With that chunk of gold, they can buy the last box of Power Bars and NUUN tablets at the local running store because it’s the last remaining business in town and we all know how important it is to support your local running store under all circumstances. I know I do. The angels bless me for it.
Nihilists and narcissists
There’s a fine line between all this doomsday thinking and flat out nihilism, which is defined as “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.” Because those of us who run, ride and swim can’t fall prey to something so banal as basic nihilism. We all find meaning through our running, riding and swimming. Right? Don’t we?
There are some who would instead accuse us of narcissism. Which is just a step away from nihilism, if you think about it. Yet it’s a weirdly faceted distinction. If you only care about yourself, as the criticism of endurance athletes goes, then your “self” becomes a form of religion. So your self-obsession is in fact a denial of the notion of nihilism.
Then there are the cults of self that form around activities like the Ironman, which if you think about it is a combination narcissistic and nihilistic self adventure. It takes you to the point of self-destruction, yet you cross the line to the words, “(insert name here…) you are an Ironman!” You’ve survived, therefore you are. Life has meaning. Such as it is.
It’s a something
Well, things are getting interesting now, aren’t they? Because the cultlike hold that distance events have on our minds and souls extend through events like the marathon as well. But it it also true for people with the Half Marathon, the Half Ironman. The 10K and the 5K. To each their own test. That is how the story goes. These events lend meaning to our existence. They make us feel alive, anyway.
Yet we tend to forget that these self-defining adventures are different for everyone. For a mom coming off the post-partum effects of baby delivery, finishing a 5K can be a transcendent experience. It might not seem like much to those training for the Hell On Earth that is 140.2, but for the mom, it’s a something. You can’t deny someone their something. It’s not for you to decide.
The Flat Earth
It’s this collective “something” that keeps us all from falling off the edge of a Flat Earth. And in case you don’t know it, there are still people who believe that the earth is flat. They are dead serious about this idea. This comment from one of the Flat Earth Forums shows how the thinking goes : “If Earth really is like “globe” like your saying, then sureley people in south “Hemisphere” will be falling right of! if not so, then earth has to being flat………SO,,, please see for yourself if people in australia are faling of bottom of “globe!” Good luck to you round-earthers refuting this one!”
The Flat Earthers have formulated all kinds of supposed “proofs” that the earth is flat. They do this because they want to believe the earth is flat. It fits their notion of how the world works. To give up those notions is simply too frightening and too confusing a proposition for them to consider. This is true of many religious believers as well, especially those possessed of a literalistic view of scripture and a determination to defend it. It so happens that the material belief that the earth is flat and the literalistic religious belief that the Bible says the Earth is flat converge on a single point. That would be stupidity.
It’s the same with the Muslim faith and the belief that killing yourself to clobber infidels is the path to heaven where a large pile of virgins awaits your desperate prick. Or the populist belief that racial superiority is conveyed to one race of people over another. The opposite of nihilism is turning everyone into niggers with disposable souls. Such is American history, and the rest of the world for that matter. The real “ends of the earth” are right next to you. Those who decide the world should end for others have already fallens off the steep shelf of nihilism.
But the World is Flat…
Yet the concept of a flat earth works as an explanation of economic theory. A pair of economists including Thomas Friedman of the University of Chicago have proposed the idea that the global economy has flattened everything from communications to commerce to currencies. The oceans no longer separate us from each other and money flies across the face of the earth without hindrance. Capital especially follows the path of least resistance to profit. This is all proof that the World is Flat.
Yet a flattened world is the phenomenon that has caused America’s economy to sink inward. American capital chased cheap labor overseas and 80% of our manufacturing jobs went with it. And with our slow collapse have come threats that we’ll suck the world down a sinkhole of our own making. Hence, the dire threats about the end of the world as we know it.
Those of us keen on just getting along in this world, and worrying about our next workout, and not the collapse of the global economy or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, must adopt some sort of belief system that says it just can’t happen. The End of the World As We Know It will surely be prevented by those who know better! They simply can’t be that stupid to let it happen!
But it does. And it probably will. And you and I will be left clinging to our Hoka One Ones or Saucony Triumphs, wondering about the right thing to do. Should we go for a run or huddle with the others in Les Miserables fashion, wastlings in a wasted world?
I say we all go a long run or a long ride. Let’s swim through the rushing waters of the apocalypse, and wave to John the Baptist standing on the river banks of the apocalpytic Jordan. We can pull the last $5 from the measly pockets of our running shorts or riding kits and wave them in defiance at the outcomes of the Book of Revelation and the Four Horseman. We’ll shake that $5 in the faces of all those economic doomsayers chirping on Fox News and CNN. We’ll waggle our sorry butts at their lack of veracity and go about our merry way running, riding and swimming all the way to economic and religious hell.
And we’ll say, in defiance: “I’m going to buy some fuel for the last half of the workout!” “And I’m pretty sure this section of river is a Strava Segment!”
That’s how we’ll roll when the End of the World finally comes. Because we can.
SEEK JUSTICE. GIVE FULLY.