This swine flu nonsense is just one in a long series of scientific threats that don’t scare me. I sometimes wonder if people WANT to run around afraid. Is there some innate drive in humanity to fear ultimate destruction?
Stories such as this one show that even scientific-sounding people can still be crazy eschatologists. That word may be unfamiliar to most, because we’ve become so accustomed to religious vocabulary that terms like “apocalypse” and “Armageddon” have come to mean “end of the world.”
In fact, apocalypse merely means “lifting of the veil,” a poetic metaphor for John’s revelation of the end of times. Armageddon translates to Mount of Megiddo, which is the location of the final battle in Christianity’s eschatology. Neither apocalypse nor Armageddon are true synonyms for “end of times;” eschaton is the only word used in English that literal definition.
Science has always appealed to me because it tends to be pro-active and level-headed. While religion tends to act passively while dictating demands passionately, scientists tend to calmly get their hands dirty and report what they find.
Science is supposed to be optimistic. It should recognize problems and resolve them. It certainly does no good worrying that the world will end. Instead of worrying, we should just take what precautions we can. Will people consider me a prophet because I predict, here and now, that pig flu will blow over like every other overblown threat? I hope not.
Newspapers are in dire straits, and they’ll report on anything remotely frightening in order to sell copies. Hanta virus, SARS, avian flu, monkey pox, Ebola, even killer bees and terrorism: I let none of them scare me. I trust in the power of humanity to adapt. I believe the impossible is possible. After all, a pig flu.