Dystopia Now: Part 1

dystopian: relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.

Dystopia Now: Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

“Man, I can’t believe you’ve never been cow tipping before…get ready to live.” It was 1997 and I was spending the night at my best friend’s house watching a PG-13 movie, Tommy Boy. My friend quoted this movie all the time and finally one night he planned to introduce me to the funniest movie of my life.

I do not quote a lot of movies, maybe two on a good day; but I could probably think of a Tommy Boy quote for any situation.  I think it took us a few hours to watch the movie because my friend had to rewind it after quoting it or to explain something that I didn’t get the first time. After that night, and twenty-five years later, this movie can always put a smile on my face.

Just the other day I said, “John Hancock, it’s Herby Hancock,” as a response to someone wanting my signature. Chris Farley and David Spade literally created my framework for humor during the most important developmental years of my life. Not saying this was the best thing to happen to me but it certainly has helped me create some lasting memories.

One of the more subtle references to pop-culture in Tommy Boy was towards the end of the movie when Tommy and Richard have finally accepted their differences and embraced their own strengths. As a way to show their camaraderie, we are shown these two grown men singing to a few songs while driving across the country. One of those songs is the 1987 classic, “It’s The End of The World” by R.E.M.

I did not know what I was missing out on when I first watched this performance and it wasn’t until hearing the song years later that I understood the full humor in the moment.  After three lines of singing:

“It’s the end of the world as we know it,”

Tommy and Richard belt out the climactic ending of the chorus,

“and I feel fine…”

Then Tommy and Richard immediately try to start singing the following verse not realizing that it is actually a very complicated set of lyrics. The joke is in their attempt to sing a song they do not know and play it off as if that was their intent the whole time. Find clip here.

“Six o’clock, T.V. hour, don’t um, hum um hum…yeah.”

I still only know those words, and probably all that anyone knows fully, is the chorus, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”

I think every generation has a group of people that go against the establishment. The ability to speak out against the establishment is one of the greatest gifts our founding fathers gave us. The right to speak out against tyranny, oppression, injustice and cruelty is a fundamental right of every American citizen. It is one that we can take for granted the most.

R.E.M.’s song is just one of countless songs that seek to point out the chaos that we can sometimes find ourselves in. As of March 16, this song has made it back on the charts, placing it at number 41 since the recent deceleration of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

What is our culture’s fascination with the end of the world? It’s not just our American culture, it’s all humans for all time since the dawn of civilization. There is a fascination with death, a fascination with heaven and hell and a fascination of our current reality as we know it. You would be hard pressed to find an ancient group of people without an end of the world prediction. It only makes sense, if we seek to describe how we came to be into existence, a creation story, then a destruction story would fit the timeline. As quickly as our lives come forth, the end seems to be just as swift for the ones facing an apocalypse of sorts.

This is where we find ourselves, in a world pandemic. For some people it is terrifying, for some it is sobering and for others they remain largely unaffected. Statistically speaking, you are still more likely to die from a heart disease, cancer, accidents (Car crashes, work place, alcohol related), Chronic Lower respiratory disease (COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma), stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Number 8 on the list for 2017 is influenza and pneumonia with an estimated 55,000 deaths. Covid-19 would fit somewhere in this category. As a percentage of people dying from Influenza and pneumonia, we are currently at .26 %, or 144 as of March 18. This isn’t to minimize our current predicament but to give us perspective, We will look at other historical events in other posts for perspective. Data used from Medical News Today.

These may just be numbers, but a death is a death and a hard pill to swallow. If you have lost someone recently, the pain is unimaginable and I am truly sorry for your loss. Death humbles us and has the ability to put things into perspective.

This is where I will eventually head in the coming days. What can we learn from those of us who are surviving members of a loved one during this pandemic?

We will also be looking at scripture verses that are flooding the internet about the end of the world as found in Matthew 24 and Revelation chapters 6-13, and God’s call to Israel to repent as in 2 Chronicles 7. Is this virus outbreak a sign of God’s coming Judgement?

For now, I will leave you with this, as a trained student of history, not just a person who likes history, we need perspective. Every time there is something causing death that is out of our control, we wonder if this is the end of humanity. This is natural human behavior.

My hypothesis is this, if we can predict human behavior, then maybe we can respond better with each new problem the world faces. The determining factor of our response should be our proximity to the issue at hand.

For those of us who believe in God, specifically in the resurrected Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father and has sealed us with the Holy Spirit, we need not fear.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

Romans 8:35, ESV

The question stated is rhetorical with the inferred answer of no. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Be strong and courageous.

In Truth & Love,
Matthew J. Diaz

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