Some people say this world will end with a whimper
And some say with a bang
No matter how much your theories might differ
It’s passing just the same
—Rich Mullins, Prisoner
There have been a lot of people lately saying the world as we know it is ending. That’s very sweet; I’m glad they took the time to tell me. I don’t understand why they are all so surprised, though. This is what has happened, since the beginning of times. Things rise, but things ultimately fall. Gravity will tell you that; entropy will tell you that. It was bound to happen, and it is happening. I wish they could accept that. They could handle this whole disaster so much better if they did.
Denial never helped anybody. The first thing you learn when you are about to attempt something dangerous is how to fall. If you fall the wrong way, you will surely break yourself. If you fall properly, you will be back on your feet in no time. And what is falling wrong? Trying to stop yourself from falling. Anyone who has every tried any remotely stupid stunt can tell you this. It is better to agree with the fall and fall gracefully than to fight the fall. A deliberate fall leaves you unharmed; a fall struggled against can easily cause pain, agony and death.
You don’t put out your hands to stop yourself from falling. You tuck your arms in and roll into the fall. Putting your arms out to stop you can leave you with broken arms. If you tuck and roll, you will spring back up and try again. You put out your arms when you are afraid of falling, and in doing so, harm yourself. To face the fear and roll into it spares you the very pain you feared. And yet, out of blind terror, so many people try to stop their fall. It is a very sad thing to watch.
But what is worse, and here I must rebuke a lot of the world at large, is the people who interfere with the way you mean to fall. What I mean to say is, it is all very well and good to tell me the theater is on fire. I thank you; I am glad to be warned. But now I would like to very orderly walk to the exit, and you all are running around and screaming and inciting panic and shoving and pushing and turning this all into a nightmare, and I do not thank you.
I don’t understand these people who make lofty sounding arguments out of human dignity, when it is the very first thing they throw out the window. The plane is going down, and there is nothing we can do about it? Very well, let us spend our last few moments in dignity. If you would like to comment on the water below, that’s all well and good. But let’s not spend our last few moments raving like insane people. It’s not as though the raving insanity would fix anything; in fact, if nothing else, it will most surely make the ride down much more unpleasant.
I’m not referring to people who’s job it is to report on these matters. I’m not saying we ought to all close our eyes and pretend we aren’t heading for certain doom. But I am just about ready to let loose both barrels on anyone who drags it unnecessarily into the conversation. You aren’t allowed to say, “Boy, today sure is bright. . .UNLIKE SOME POLITICIANS!!!” You aren’t allowed to say, “Boy, today sure is gloomy. . .JUST LIKE OUR FUTURE!!!” You aren’t allowed to say, “My toast is burnt! As if I wasn’t suffering enough with the economy the way it is!!!” And you aren’t allowed to play Chicken Little and hop around in circles screaming “The world is ending! The sky is falling! And it’s all someone else’s fault!” Even if it may possibly be true!
Now is the time to pull yourself together and act with dignity, grace and restraint. In the difficult times is when we must put aside our childishness, and conduct ourselves not by what we feel like doing, but by what we ought to be doing. Now is the time to take stock of what is truly helpful to the situation. . . and what is only harmful.
And again, just because it is true and that is the way you feel does not mean it is helpful to keep talking about it over and over and over again, bringing it up at every opportunity. Yes, the world may be ending. Why let that ruin a cup of hot cocoa? If you can do something about, by all means, get to it! But if not, why spend all of your time so worried and fussed about it that you can no longer enjoy the pleasant things in life?
Don’t you realize the disaster will get here soon enough without living through it in our minds 70 times over before it gets here? When it is here, we will deal with it. Until then, put a few more marshmallows in your cup. If you can’t stop it, and you can’t fix it, why are you thinking about it? If you can think of something you can do to prepare, to roll into your fall, do it. But you might as well whistle while you do; there’ll be time enough for tears later, and they aren’t needed now.
I am a hairs-breadth away from dropping a certain blog from my feed-reader. Like many people these days, she is obsessed with oncoming disaster. I don’t doubt it’s there, but my blog roll is not about making me feel glum with anxious thoughts and indignant outrages. One of the first things I do in the morning is read my blog subscriptions, and purely uninformative frothing is not only of no use to me, it puts me in a bad mood right from the start. “The world is ending and there’s nothing we can do about it!!!” is not conductive to anything productive or pleasant.
If I am reading your catalogs, I don’t want to know how bad you think the economy is, and I don’t want to be reminded. I know already, and having you remind me only spoils the time I was spending on your catalog. I came to look at your products, not listen to you moan and wail. The market is already saturated with moaning and wailing, and no one wants any more of it. We aren’t buying. Please take it away.
Everybody can talk about the strength and courage of the pioneers that formed this country, but no one wants to buck up and show a little strength and courage. Take, for example, the Ingalls in the long winter. The blizzards keep blocking the trains from getting the supplies to De Smet. The guy who was supposed to make sure they stayed clear made a few fool-hardy attempts, and than impatiently quit.
And the Ingalls, who depended on those trains for food, for their very sustenance? Used the superintendent as an example to their girls of someone who did not have enough patience nor perseverance. And dropped the subject.
They didn’t yell and scream about how they needed that train, and they didn’t moan and wail about how without that train they would starve to death. They didn’t blame, and they didn’t harp on it. On the contrary, when Laura discovered exactly how short on food they were, Ma quickly chastened her that she must never complain, and she must always be thankful, because they could always have even less to be thankful for.
Did they starve? No, they did not. It was not because they had enough food. And it was not because the trains got through. And it was not because they formed an action committee and lobbied the government about their unfair treatment at not getting food out to them. It was because someone soberly did the math, realized everyone was going to die if nothing was changed, and took a huge personal risk to attempt to set it to right: Almanzo Wilder chose to risk his very life chasing a rumor of wheat. He didn’t tell someone else to do it, and he didn’t wait for it to come to them. “Be sure you’re right, and then go ahead,” he said. He was sure the town would starve if more food was not fetched; therefore, he went. Cap Garland went with him. By the grace of God, they not only found the wheat, they also found their way back home.
The moral of that story is not that someone else ought to hurry up and play the hero for you. The moral of that story is that if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. It’s only going to make starving to death that much more unpleasant. And if you think you know something useful, don’t waste everyone else’s time talking about it; do it.