Birds are falling from the sky, and fish are dying all over the place. There are stories popping up all over the news and internet regarding these strange phenomenons (or is it phenomena? Haha, sounds like that muppet song, Mahnamahna! Anyway…). Here are just a couple of links if you want to check it out for yourself:
New York Times: Mass Animal Deaths an Environmental Whodunit
ABC News: More Dying Birds Fall From the Sky
See!?! I didn’t make it up.
We live in an age of mass communication. I can talk to someone on the other side of the world in a flash. We can send messages on our phones, and watch live video from some country that we’ve never heard of. This instant communication makes the world seem a lot smaller. Not that long ago, if an earthquake devastated a region on the other side of the globe, you and I would not have heard about it for days or even weeks. And not that long before that, we may not have known about it at all. So where am I going with this?
As a young boy, I had a touch of the hypochondria. I had a heightened awareness of my entire body as a result of the realization of my own mortality. I would think to myself, Is that normal? Is that the right color? What is that pain in my side? Every little apparent abnormality was scrutinized to no end. I had a new awareness, but lacked the understanding to interpret things appropriately. This is along the lines of what is happening in the world today.
I recall a class in which a discussion broke out about the end of the world. At that time I raised my hand and said, “Does anyone else find it a little convenient that only now, when we have the ability to monitor the entire world, we recognize that the world is falling apart? I mean, you’re telling me that after all this time, only when we’ve just begun to connect and understand the world as a whole it is coming to an end?”
Now, I’m not about to say that everything is perfectly fine with the world. Certainly there are plenty of environmental and man-made issues posing a threat to the fragile deck of cards that is civilization. What I am saying is that it is easy to make unreasonable connections, which lead to unfounded conclusions. If you do a little research, you’ll find that mass die offs happen fairly regularly. Somewhere between 150 and 200 instances occur just in the U.S. every year. So why are we only hearing about it now?
One reason for the news coverage is surely connected to the timing of them all. At the start of the new year a bunch of birds drop dead simultaneously over a small town in Arkansas. New Year’s is highly symbolic. It stands as a marker for the end and the beginning. It reminds us that time is marching on toward some great and terrible destiny. It’s no wonder that at such a time people would flip out.
Another factor is the approach of 2012 and all of those end of the world prophecies that go along with it. Any strange global occurrences can then be attributed to the approach of this ominous date. Also, many religious people believe that the end is at hand, so any signs from the heavens could indicate that Judgment Day is around the corner.
The media has a finger on the pulse of the masses. They know what gets us going. By reporting all of these events, they are able to create the impression that all of them are connected. We don’t usually hear about these events, but now that the media has decided to focus in on them it appears to us that it is unique and alarming. Much like an author chooses to direct the attention of the reader by introducing intentional characters and action, the media has the ability to shape our perception of current events.
We live in a volatile time. The world, at any given time is on the edge of oblivion. So it would be foolish of me to say that the world is certainly not approaching some dramatic conclusion. But it would also be foolish of me to say that it certainly is. The future is unknown. Even Jesus addressed this when he said…
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13: 32-37)
We don’t know the end. And believe me, that’s a good thing.