Expect the best and prepare for the worst. An adage we’ve all heard. In 2015, though, we find this wisdom being turned on its head, as we approach a horizon of historic upheaval. Prophecies from countless times and places point toward our era as a runway to wonder or an opening into oblivion. At the shopping mall, however, it is business as usual, buying, consuming, then fuming about the direction our country might be headed.
Indeed, as we look around at worsening extremes of weather, economies on the cliff, and political systems in gridlock, it’s hard not to think of biblical end times. Television and films capitalize on our collective apprehension with a blizzard of documentaries on the many endings in store for the world as we know it. From catastrophic asteroids, to mega quakes in Yellowstone, to searing sunspots, catalyzing alignments with the galaxy, or our own itchy nuclear trigger fingers, the future from Hollywood has us getting gutted by every conceivable force in the universe.
Of course, any of these things could happen and many already have at some time in the past. No era is immune to calamity on any scale, universal or personal. But this is nothing new. Just because disasters can happen does not mean that they will. Nor does dismissing the possibilities prevent them from coming to be. Worry is not preparation, and denial is not a strategy. But thoughts do count in the tally of what is likely to happen.
When fear floods a community, the tsunami of apprehension washes away reason, intuition, creativity, courage, and even hope. All the qualities that enable people to meet challenges, work together for the collective good, and inspire extraordinary efforts get drowned in the drain. In that sense then, the worst disaster might be fear itself.
On the other hand, having a vision of a world worth working toward galvanizes the greatest faith and the action to help it to happen. Investing in the best means being willing to acknowledge fear, but keeping it in perspective, so we can remain free to act in accord with the true currents of change.
Preparing for the worst isn’t the same as expecting it. The world can end at any time, for any and each of us. That reality is unlikely to change. But the world is also made new when we begin to hear with our hearts, see with our souls, and speak with meaning. Then the light of life has a chance to illumine the shadows and allow the journey on to genuine joy. All it requires is the courage to expect (and enact) the best.