Sunday, 22 May 2011

On the rapture and people who followed it

As will come to no surprise to, well, the vast majority of people in the world, the rapture didn't happen yesterday. Which meant I didn't get to score some sweet looted shinies - nor did traffic congestion get reduced in any significant way. Sadness

And I'm sort of tempted to join in the whole giggling and mocking at the silly. Because, after all, silly on this level is due a little giggling and gods know turning up a reason to laugh is a bad idea.

Except... some people quit their jobs over this. Some people spent staggering sums of money over this. Some people ran up vast amounts of debt over this (and I don't understand any of this. If the rapture was going to happen - why would you need to travel cross-country or buy lots of stuff or spend lots of money on advertising?)

And while I'm severely inclined to say "a fool and his money are soon parted" I can't help but be uncomfortable because of this. Because of the ravings of a fool, a whole huge bunch of people threw away so much of what they had and their lives are now very very very much poorer. And yes, it was their own choice and they knowingly and willingly decided to do this to themselves... but then, we often describe cult members as victimised and while this doesn't have the narrow, insular nature of a cult, it's still enough to make me uncomfortable with just saying "ha-ha, more fool you!"

...but doesn't the guy in charge of this whole mess, Harold Camping, have some responsibility? His careless words and manipulation of belief have hurt a whole lot of people. But then, by all accounts, he legitimately believes the nonsense he spouts? And there's no reason to believe he won't continue to, since it's not his first failed prediction

Did he at least have a duty to say "I could be wrong. Yes I could, be ready for the rapture, but don't do anything drastic! Be ready for life to start again on Sunday in case I've got my numbers wrong. My calculator could be out of batteries - or it's one of those solar powered ones, y'know? A shadow at the wrong time and we could all be off!" at least some qualifiers to his certainty?

I mean, again, he has to be aware of the consequences here. He has to be aware of the foolish self-sabotaing ridiculous things people do in these situations. He's done it before. And even if he hadn't - we all know the severe and hoprrendous things people have done to themselves and others in the name of apocalyptic, end-times religious belief. If anything, we should be happy that people didn't do worse things

I'm torn. I look at these people who have thrown so much away and say to them "you bloody fools" and have no sympathy for the fool who didn't bother to turn on their brains for 5 minutes. But at the same time, I pity them and am uncomfortable absolving Harold Camping of responsibility here

But I'm still going to ring in on Monday calling sick because I've been raptured :P