The end of the world?
Writer: Sharyn Shufiyan
Published: Fri, 11 Jan 2013
IT’S January 2013 and I’m not looking out to a new dawn on a gigantic ark heading towards the African continent. Neither was my December filled with running around for my life avoiding falling debris and natural disasters.
It would have been fun though, but it’s just as fun to read about the many apocalyptical myths and different interpretations of the Mayan calendar whilst snug in my bed.
Many religions believe in eschatology, including Muslims. We believe in Qiyamah, the Day of Resurrection when the world ends and the afterlife begins.
I grew up with fascinating and somewhat terrifying stories of Qiamah.
Unlike the Mayans which sets one day as the turning point of a new cycle, Qiyamah will happen over several significant events; there is the coming of the saviour Mahdi, the deception of the Antichrist or as we call it Dajjal, and the descent of Jesus Christ to aid Mahdi in defeating Dajjal.
And then there will be Gog and Magog, though what they are no one really knows but what we know is that they will wreck havoc on earth.
There will be earthquakes and smoke will engulf the world for 40 days and night. A Beast will come before us to distinguish the believers from non-believers. The sun will rise in the East and set in the West and earth will shatter by the trumpet of Israfel (although we might have already been feeling the latter) and that would be the last of humanity.
Our version of Doomsday is not that much different from The Lord of the Rings, really.
The descriptions of Qiyamah leave plenty of room for interpretations. A friend of mine theorised that these signs are symbols of death itself. There have also been many guesses, assumptions and even conspiracy theories of who these figures would be and when, or if they are already happening. Unfortunately, I would be reduced to the notion that God knows best and would refrain from going further into these interpretations.
However, descriptions and portrayals of an apocalypse almost always include natural disasters – the dying planet.
More and more, we are experiencing harsher thunderstorms, snowstorms, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes.
Just recently, Klang was heavily affected by flash floods. Despite the early alerts and preparations, the floods affected more than 200 people and cost thousands in damages. Even with the millions of Ringgit spent on mitigating measures, officials are merely slapping a plaster over an open wound.
FZ.com reported Ronnie Liu as saying: “Based on studies, flash floods are caused by heavy rain, tides, rain water combining with high tide, Klang’s sloping terrain and being lower than the sea level as well as human factors.”
Perhaps Klang’s geographical location and the intensity of the climate were significant contributing factors but surely it does not paint the whole picture.
This view merely scrapes the surface of the problem and makes it appear superficial.
We only see the immediate consequences without understanding the connection between our everyday actions and the changing climate. We see clogged drains or shoddy workmanship and blamed that as the cause of the floods. We blame the weather, something that is out of our control without realising that collectively, globally, we all played a part.
The new MyBioD logo launched by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is a good start to understand the interconnectedness of life, something that is not as tangible as a clogged drain.
It’s a great start for people to see how one connects to the other like a web and how even a small disturbance can affect the equilibrium. Hopefully people are able to understand ecosystems better, if they don’t already.
Klang is not the only place that was affected by intense weather conditions and her problems are diminutive compared to the global scale of things. The Philippines were struck by Bopha, parts of the United States flattened by Sandy, Myanmar and Iran cracked from earthquakes.
Every year we hear more devastations caused by a raging planet yet all we could do is pour relief into affected areas and hope that the worst is over. But it never is over, is it?
Every week, every month, every year, there will be a new tsunami, earthquake, landslide, flash flood, fire, hurricanes and the list goes on.
We are after all, at the mercy of nature. And that’s why the COPs on climate change are so frustrating because no one really wants to find any real solutions, except perhaps Maldives and Bangladesh.
I wonder where Malaysia is in the scheme of things. Perhaps our geographical location outside of fault lines has made us complacent.
Perhaps our doom may not come in the guise of religious eschatology or astronomical alignments but from our own doings. Environmental-friendly campaigns can only do so much to create awareness but it contributes little to a real change when we are destroying on a much larger scale.
So here’s to 2013, and forgive me for starting the year on a grim note, but only because I would like to see more proactive measures in environmental protection and participatory inputs from the civil society with regards to environmental matters.
Perhaps the Mayan prediction isn’t so much a prognosis but prevention.