Signs, signs, everywhere a sign…

I want to make a few things clear: I don’t wear a tin foil hat so “they” can’t read my mind. I don’t have a working theory on who was on the grassy knoll. While I find the 9/11 “evidence” of the Truthers interesting, I’m not sufficiently naïve to believe that we’re ever going to learn the whole story behind that fateful day—from anyone.  And it never dawned on me to buy a used missile silo to hunker down in when the Mayan calendar ended.

Granted, the past week, I’m thinking one might come in handy.

I openly admit to being a news junkie. It’s an occupational hazard; I’ve worked as both a reporter and in PR. The internet and my Kobo have made it a lot easier to get my daily requirement of three to four papers (this is easier to accomplish when one of the things you get paid to do is to know what’s going on) and at least a couple of respectable news websites. Lately, I’ve started collecting headlines—and there have been some doozies.

Let’s see—in the past week, an unmanned drone was spotted flying over Brooklyn. We’re getting buzzed by another really big asteroid that we didn’t see coming until it was nearly on top of us. North Korea is threatening to end a 60-year armistice and seems to think it has the firepower to hit the US with a nuke. There’s all the coverage of the upcoming papal conclave, much up it spiced up with quotes from St. Malachi warning of what happens if the next Pope happens to be named Peter (perhaps a moot point now since Archbishop Angelo Scola has jumped ahead in the odds).

Then there’s the oddest one of all—Israel Battles Swarms of Locusts from Egypt—which is not only biblical in the most literal way but if you consider the plagues Egypt is said to have suffered before releasing Moses and his people, it’s a long overdue irony.

It’s not that I think that any one of these events is some sort of dark sign of the coming of the end of days—although I’m sure there are those that do. And I’m almost willing to bet that every one of these things has happened before—although the last time a pope put in for retirement, none of us were here. The overwhelming part is the concentration of multiple strange, and in some cases, dangerous, events happening at the same time. Twenty-four hour news channels don’t help; they fill space by broadcasting these stories over and over, often with a far more sinister headline each time.

But I have to wonder if we’ve somehow become immune to the horrors threatened in the news. Did something change in the nearly a dozen years since 9/11?  Have we become so accustomed to the possibility of terrorists planning destruction and death right under our noses, so blasé about natural disasters, so numb to what far too often feels like the last gasps of civilization that we just don’t have the collective adrenaline to react?  If something really bad—something big, life changing—was reported to be headed our way, would we be able to consider the ramifications, maybe figure out some kind of solution—or would we just file it under yet another bad news story.

A steady diet of fear is a lot like the boy who cried wolf. With so many warnings—and the ever-present insinuation that the end is near—there’s a very real danger that we might ignore a true peril until it’s too late.

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