Of doomsday scenarios!

Published: November 19, 2018
The writer is former ambassador of Pakistan and ex-assistant secretary general of OIC

The writer is former ambassador of Pakistan and ex-assistant secretary general of OIC

Date of birth has for long been believed to have a bearing on the character and wellbeing of an individual. Whether you believe in horoscopes or not, the fact remains that these somewhat ghastly harbingers do cast a looming shadow of sorts. Our neighbours across the border to the east are, of course, firm believers in such astrological marvels. Even such an otherwise resolute leader like the late Indira Gandhi, one is told, allowed her actions to be swayed by her favourite soothsayers. Many in the Western world, motivated though it is by the scientific spirit, still are not fully immune to the influence of those who read into the influence of movement and juxtaposition of the planets.

When those who had something to do with Roman mythology designated Mars as the god of war, they had no way of looking into the future, the Oracle notwithstanding! They could have had no inkling at all about the events of 9/11 or, indeed, the ensuing War on Terror. But such is the way of nature in the topsy-turvy world of today — beset as it is with pestilences such as globalisation and the doctrine of pre-emption — they appear to have come into juxtaposition somehow. If the aforementioned does not make sense to the reader, one must hasten to explain that it is not meant to. Whoever thought the New World Order was ever designed to make sense to the common man anyway?

One craves the indulgence of the reader to recall a stinging news item of several years ago, datelined Phnom Penh, which conveyed the earth-shaking news that soothsayers from the hosts, India and Hong Kong, meeting in a tent outside a temple in the heart of Cambodia’s capital, had declared that a close encounter with Mars would spell disaster, natural or man-made, to the good Earth. Apparently, sometime after the doomsday prediction in question, Mars was to pass closer to Earth than at any time in the past 60,000 years. Skeptics’ shrugs notwithstanding, the soothsayers’ predictions were not entirely off the mark, though.

At this point, the gentle reader may well be tempted to ask as to where all this is leading. A clarification of some sort is, therefore, called for. Humankind has surrounded itself with the wherewithal of all kinds of explosive matter — not to talk of WMDs — and has, thereby, become disaster prone. The work of the soothsayer has, as a consequence, become somewhat simpler than what it used to be in the days of yore. The world today is like a tinderbox, with flashpoints spread all over. The doomsday merchant merely has to point to the more crises-prone areas. Given the trigger-happy lot that sits at the helm of affairs on this accident-prone globe, chances are that the soothsayer will hit the jackpot. Prizes these days should be reserved for those who are the harbingers of glad tidings rather than those who predict doom.

Doomsday scenarios have been painted down the ages. Since times immemorial, men of vision, or men who feign to have a vision of sorts, have taken delight in predicting the end of the world. Mercifully, most of them have been proven wrong. But still the game lingers on. Some have linked these scenarios to astrological phenomena; others to changes linked to man’s propensity to court disasters. Either way, it is something to be wary of.

Technological advancement has placed man in the unenviable situation in which he has acquired the capability to destroy the good Earth several times over. Just why he feels the urge to do that leaves one’s mind in a boggle. And yet, humankind is out to add newer and more potent means of self-destruction to the already formidable arsenal. The doomsday merchant, to his credit, merely deigns to predict the destruction of the Earth; it is the armaments’ manufacturer and the merchant who provide the means to make this horror possible. It is not for one to sermonise, but the hour may be at hand to draw the line in the sands of time. To procrastinate may well amount to courting disaster!

Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2018.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • RK Singh
    Nov 20, 2018 - 9:43AM

    Nice satire(I hope). But doomsday should not be taken as a joke. It happened to earth many times in its history of 4 billion years. Literally wiped out the life on earth many times. But life survived. May not be in its existing form. It bounds back all the time. With mars , if it happens, it will be curtains for earth- if it collides with Earth. So nothing to joke about. Also regarding the poke at your eastern neighborhood- they have progressed beyond their beliefs, believe me. Those days of God men have gone, even though there are few cranky guys cropping up now and then.Recommend

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