By Clyde Lewis

Remember the months before the New Yearís 2000 Celebrations? Do you remember how a lot of people were just too damn scared to go out and party because they thought that they were going to die? Nothing happened. Later, the paranoia toned down and all was quiet. Half way into the year 2000 the fires of doomsday are flaring up once again. Some people claim that just because the big event didnít happen on the due date doesnít mean that we arenít doomed.

Something happens when you bury paranoia deep inside of you. It grows inward and engulfs you. It spreads through every bone, through every sinew and muscle and while you think that you are safe in hiding it from those around you it eventually explodes, swallowing everyone who is in the way of itís bewitching power.

Most people are capable of thinking rationally. They would go out of their way to tell you that they donít sweat the small stuff. That is until the small stuff builds and builds. Eventually many small things develop into one big neurosis.

Dread and paranoia leave an indelible scar on you as the days pass and you creep closer and closer to your terminal breath.

You donít think twice about that airplane ride. You get on the plane and as it climbs above the earth speeding you to your destination you donít think about slamming into that mountainside. Then you notice the plane weaving in and out of the sky. The turbulence has the faithful crossing themselves and the cowards sipping down gin and tonics hoping to numb the brain from thinking about that horrible descent and the last sound theyíll hear of twisting metal a fraction of second before the silence.

No one knows when they are going to die. The terminally ill get a rough estimate but sometimes they outlive their respective doomsday and others die before they even have a chance to travel the world and say good bye to everyone.

I guess that is how fate works and much to the dismay of psychics and soothsayers.

Even Nostradamus specifically says that he does not predict the end of the world. We are also told that his predictions and prophesies extend all the way into the year 3797 AD. However there are those who still think that the dreaded 1999 prophecy is yet to be fulfilled and drawing far reaching parallels and connecting the dots to create a picture of doom and gloom.

The Millennium group, a group that have been given an audience on several talk shows have painted an ugly picture about the infamous Nostradamus "1999 and seven months prophecy that speaks of the "King of Terror" coming down from the sky.

In the year 1999 and seven months,
The Great King of Terror will come from the sky.
He will bring back to life the great king of Angolmois,
Before and after Mars reigns happily.


Even though the prophecy specifically points to 1999 and seven months The Millennium group wants to fit a round peg in a square hole regarding the nefarious prophecy.

They claim that the prophecy will happen in July of 2000. The reason specifically is that a comet called 76/P may be drawn into Mars Orbit. If it does it could hit Phobos, one of the Martian moons sending debris into space, debris that could very well hit the planet earth. The name Phobos is of course is Greek for "Terror."

Here we see people who constantly are crossing off the days of the calendar and trying to create a doom probability and continually use it to make you more aware of your mortality. Right or wrong it is still fascinating to see the theories take shape.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister used Nostradamus prophesies to help validate the rise of the Nazi party. The Allies were getting worried because many were thinking that the Nazis were right and so Hollywood had to counter attack with movies that disproved what the Nazis were trying to convince the world of and that was their rise and predicted control of the world.

Hollywood had their own versions and interpretations in order to counter attack the use of psychological warfare that was disenchanting the Allies.

This means that perhaps there is not one single answer and that many things said, written and predicted could either be the right answer or it could all be simple, neat, and wrong. Isnít that confusing?

Of course it is and it is meant to be. The reason is that like it or not the earth is always in the crosshairs of an extinction level event. It is one big cosmic snow globe of death that is destined for a good shaking every now and again. No one knows when it will happen and if you keep saying that the earth faces an extra terrestrial threat of extinction, then you can always say "I told you so" when the unthinkable happens.

We never think about the truth about chaos in the universe and how we actually live on a planet that is placed in a virtual tempest that can turn on us at any moment.

The earth has narrowly escaped many devastating events and we have seen in the past that these events while catastrophic have not affected the planet equally.

The number of times we have come close to an extinction level event is arguable and usually becomes the banter of doomsday salesman.

However it needs to be pointed out that in 1998 an asteroid was spotted heading towards earth at 50,000 miles per hour. It was 1 mile wide and missed us by about 932,000 miles. It actually showed up virtually out of nowhere and the people of Earth had about six weeks to prepare for impact. The asteroid was named 1998ML14. Had it hit the Earth it would have destroyed everything within a 2000-mile radius of ground zero.

If it hit the ocean, which is more probable, it would have created a 17-mile high tidal wave. The death toll could have been an estimated 1.5 billion people.

There would also be a nuclear winter lasting several decades and eventually the remaining life forms would die out. However, events such as these and their aftermath are still unpredictable.

We have learned with the dinosaur cataclysm that some creatures that lived 180 million years ago still survived and continue to live after an extinction level event such as a possible asteroid collision that allegedly happened 65 million years ago.

Chaos theories could easily dispel all rumors about the eventual end of all humanity and it could very well ruin the doomsayers and their grip on the primal fear that we are all doomed. Due dates are silly and the old saying, "Shit happens" applies when you deal with chaos.

A vast majority of us could easily be destroyed but then again that there is the old saying that "life finds a way." Itís literally a cosmic crapshoot.

The Cosmic trickster rolls the dice and doubt creeps in because death can find a way too. Man has the power to destroy everything with weapons of mass destruction. He hasnít yet but we still remain hostages because there is always that chance that someone will pull the trigger.

While the idea of a nuclear holocaust is not as hip as it used to be. While fallout shelters were big in the 50ís and 60ís cold war they are now dinosaurs because people have actually forgotten about a nuclear threat.

We have always been told that the reason we have not been killed by a nuclear bomb is because of self-preservation. After all, no one wants to be responsible for the complete destruction of mankind.

No one except those Middle Easterners.

We have replaced our Red Menace hatred with the prejudiced idea that a country of "camel jockeys" will get a hold of the bomb and use it because of course they are constantly thinking of having a Jihad at will. It is also assumed that they donít hold life sacred. Even the Antichrist is allegedly going to be a man that wears a blue turban, at least that is what a lot of bigoted self appointed prophets tell us.

Itís not all being dreamt up by psychics and prophets. The death and doom probability is constantly being pushed on the nightly news. Government also tells us to heed the warnings of a possible terrorist threat and that our lives are in danger with the growing amount of hatred against Americans abroad.

US Secretary of Defense William Cohen warned that once again that the United States faces a "quite real" threat of a terrorist attack with nuclear, chemical or biological arms within the next 10 years.

Time to face the reality of Armageddon all over again.

Even though the world gave a sigh of relief on January 1st, 2000. It looks as if the picture is still bleak. Military analysts believe that even though the collapse of the Soviet Union has left the United States the sole military superpower, it is likely to be confronted with unconventional security threats for which it may be ill prepared. The attacks that Cohen spoke of are highly probable.

We are wading through a perpetual flood of information that tells us that we may not have too long on this planet. What is the purpose? Well it is obvious if you look back into history and realize that this "worst case scenario" propaganda is a great tool when it is quoted by people who have the publicís trust.

Your death and the death of your friends and neighbors has always been used as a tool of manipulation. "Do it or Die" seems like a choice, but it isnít because you die anyway.

Does life and death always play by the rules? Well religion will tell you that yes it does. Many other people are coming to the realization that death isnít as easy as giving up the ghost and ending up in Heaven or Hell.

Many are saying that there is something more to life and that death can be cheated in a sense. With cloning and medical breakthroughs life may be prolonged and we will soon see the day when mankind could live to be 100 or 125.

Then there are those that just donít know how to die right.

A woman in South Africa , who was presumed dead by her relations, pleasantly surprised them when she suddenly sat up as people mourned and started talking, some 16 hours after her "death".

The body was prepared for burial and all was set for funeral service when when mourners saw her shaking. Everybody in the funeral home was singing funeral hymns and praying for the dead woman's safe transition to the hereafter when she sat up.

The mourners jumped up very frightened. For a few minutes she looked surprised, and then she started talking.

The woman later told the state-run Malawi News Agency that she did not know what was happening during the 16 hours she had been clinically "dead". She does claim that before awakening in her coffin she did see visions of her dead parents.

David Alan Shapiro was working on a computer in a tech school when he felt a surge of electricity going into him and blacked out. The next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital room. The Doctors had told him that he went into cardiac arrest and was literally dead when the paramedics arrived.

Shapiro says that he remembered absolutely nothing about his experience. The lights literally went out and he saw nothing and experienced nothing. No angels were waiting on the other side and no lights at the end of the tunnel.

A healthy respect for chaos has to also include a healthy attitude about our own deaths. We need to swallow the bitter pill of accepting that perhaps the end is truly the end and no harp awaits you in the sky. Maybe if we knew that death is a finality and not a commencement exercise we would stop treating each other so badly. Maybe we would appreciate the short time we have on earth.

Maybe we could learn to embrace the richness of how strange life is. Maybe we would cherish its enduring wonder. Unfortunately there are those who believe that we should all play by some silly rules that are created by people who feel that tampering with mysteries is a sin against the universe.

Nothing is set in stone.

The rules that govern the universe are broken on a constant basis. So one could experience a euphoric heaven before they return to their bodies, while some experience hell. Others like David Shapiro could also experience nothingness.

The fierce defense of life after death, and the eventual destruction of the planet has been all or nothing for many people. Now it seems that the division of non believers and believers is tragic when we understand that it could happen and on the same hand it is far from happening.

So confusingly enough both scenarios apply.

It is like Douglas Adams saying that perhaps the ultimate truth is that there are no ultimate truths.

Its not that the doomsayers are right, or the skeptics are right, itís that in a sense they are both wrong. A difficult concept to grasp in our black and white, right and wrong society.

There are testimonies that vary about what happens after you die. They are as numerous as alien abductions and yet we tend to discredit the ones that donít necessarily fit into our belief systems. Maybe they all are unique because we are all unique.

The subconscious is a very powerful thing. Maybe there is some meaning in the idea of living a good life. Perhaps the brain clicks on again right before it shrivels and decomposes. As it shrinks it expels the electronic impulses and stimulus that it experienced when it was alive. You end up in what Edgar Allen Poe called "A dream within the dream." The dream is so vivid that it is hard to differentiate between what is real and what isnít. Maybe it is all an illusion? Maybe that is why the rules can often be broken.

Maybe that is why the will to live is as powerful as the fear of dying. It could be as powerful as the dread and paranoia that lingers in our minds about our fate.

Could we be literally thinking ourselves into a dark and foreboding future? Can we bring on death or keep it at from coming at will?

There are some that believe that many people will themselves to live in order to experience an event and then they die after the event has passed.

Many have heard the stories of the dying grandmother who just happens to get cancer. The doctors give her 6 months to live and the granddaughter is in tears because she is about to be married in 6 months. The day of the wedding comes and grandma is sitting in the pew crying tears of joy. A week goes by and the honeymoon is over. The couple comes home to find that their grandmother passed away the night before.

I had a dog-named Sailor boy. He was in our family ever since I was a boy of four years old. When I turned 18 I left home and lived in South America. Sailor boy was showing signs of old age and I wondered if I would ever see him again. I remember giving him a hug and wondering if he would be there when I came home.

Well I returned to my old hometown to visit my folks and waiting at the gate was my old dog Sailor boy. He was crippled and old and could barely stand up. He couldnít see me because his eyes were blind. But he could hear my voice. I pet him and held him and he knew that he was loved. I caressed his broken body and with tears in my eyes told him how much I missed him.

He died soon after I came home. Somehow I felt as though he remained alive so he could at least know that I was all right. I know it sounds odd but it seemed so synchronistic.

According to statistics there is evidence to show that deaths slow down just before holidays and special occasions. It was reported that Robert Butler who is the president of the International Longevity Center which is a research group claims that more people hung on to life in order to see the year 2000 approach.

For example, in New York City there were 1,791 deaths in the first week of the year 2000 as opposed to the 1,187 deaths in the first week of 1999. That is an increase of 50.8 percent. The statistic is also 46.1 percent more than in the last week of 1999 where 1,226 reported deaths. In 1998 there were only 1,305 deaths in the first week of the year. With these statistics it is obvious that many people hung on to life to see the Eve of the New Millennium.

It has also been recorded that most Jews hang on to life through Passover celebrations and then die the week after. There are 61 percent more deaths after Passover than a week before.

The statistics also show that women are more likely to hang on for birthdays, anniversaries, and family gatherings than men.

The latest case of this type of phenomena happened when famous Peanuts cartoonist Charles Shultz died the same day his last comic strip was run in the newspapers. Shultz was ready to retire and oddly enough on the day his last strip ran he died.

So as we mark the days on the calendar of dread we must realize that we are all doomed in some way and that death is inevitable. Every twist and turn of this maze called life is created by a cosmic trickster who laughs at our folly and misconceptions about our reward. Arguably even in death we remain lost.

Life is a ride fit for neither the faint of heart nor the rigid of mind. Death makes all men equal.

The doomsayers may be unwittingly speeding up the process of our extinction. I can only hope that we can hang on to life long enough to see Armageddon happen. That way we will know for sure if they were right.

Then again maybe not!


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