Cheryl Hughes: The End of the World as We Know It
I was eight years old the first time I heard a conspiracy theory. JFK had just been assassinated. At the supper table, my dad was proclaiming with authority that the assassination had not been carried out by a lone gunman, rather it was a hit sanctioned by then Vice President Johnson. I didn’t understand at the time that my dad’s theory was just one of many about the shooting of JFK. I just thought it was my dad telling us, yet again, how much smarter he was than anyone else.
A lot of conspiracy theories are based on that mindset. “They might fool you, but they can’t fool me. I’m smarter than that,” the conspiracy theorists say. The Righter/Smarter people are very vocal about what they believe. They often share their unsolicited opinions, especially in a crowd. I’ve witnessed this first-hand at our business, and the Covid situation has brought out the best of the worst.
Most conspiracy theories, in our country at least, fall into two categories: religion and politics.
The U.S. is a largely Christian nation—especially in the Midwest and the South—and as such, has an apocalyptic view of mankind. I’m sure your familiar with Armageddon, the battle between God and the forces of good and Satan and the forces of evil, foretold in the book of Revelation, that brings life on this planet to an end. Revelation also speaks of the “Mark of the Beast,” 666 is the number “…that no one should be able to buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the Beast or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13, vs 17)
Because I’ve been alive for a while, and because I’ve listened to those who have been alive longer than I have, I’ve heard many “Mark of the Beast” theories. The list includes Social Security numbers, credit cards, sim cards in phones and, my personal favorite, President Reagan. One of my friends was convinced President Reagan was the Antichrist, because his name contained 6 letters in each of his names, hence Ronald Wilson Reagan became 666. President Reagan died in 2004, thus putting an end to that theory.
In the U.S., political conspiracy theorists are usually convinced that the government has two main objectives: track us and control us. My sister-in-law is worried to death about the sim card in her cell phone, and how the government can know, at any given time, where she is. I’ve suggested she get a burner phone, but she would rather worry and tell the rest of us that we should be worried too—Righter/Smarter.
I first heard the theory that “Bill Gates is behind the Covid Vaccination push, because he has figured out a way to implant tiny microchips into our bodies via hypodermic needles” from a customer at our business. According to bbc.com, the conspiracy theory snowballed its way right to the top of the Italian Parliament, “…where an independent MP called for Bill Gates to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.”
Our country was born out of insurrection, the uprising of its citizens against an oppressive government. In the grand scheme of things, we are a relatively young country, and as such, many of our citizens are on the lookout least the same kind of oppressive government rear its ugly head again to track us and control us.
I also run into people who are worried about the unravelling of society as a whole. Many of those people fear losing our power grid to foreign hackers, thus destroying our food supply. “You better be canning your vegetables, not freezing them,” they say. “And you’d better have your guns ready, because there will be an uprising. You mark my words!” they add.
When I don’t become alarmed, I can sense these people think I have my head buried in the sand, but I don’t. History has taught me that any one of a thousand disastrous scenarios can play out on any given day, but I have chosen to live my life in the present. I refuse to hoard and hide and fear and blame.
In the song, “The End of the World,” by R.E.M., the lyrics state, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” That’s me. The Wronger/Stupider person.