Apocalyptic airlift

If you’re reading this, then we’ve survived the ‘end of the world’ prophesied for 21st December 2012 by apocalyptic Mayan calendar misinterpreters. I’m writing this article towards the tail end of the day and we seem to have got away with it. I was starting to think there was maybe something in it when I heard of panic buying related fisticuffs breaking out in the bread isle of Tesco due to the north boat being cancelled for a few days. However, news is just breaking that Tesco will save us all from this ‘end of the bread’ cataclysm by flying in supplies on a Hercules transport plane.

Sheesh, what has become of the once hardy Shetlanders who could manage a week cut off from the mainland? Have we really become so over reliant on Tesco that we have to fly in non-local produce like how a 3rd world natural disaster zone would be supplied with tents and medicine?

As the international news reports of this ‘emergency airlift’ come in, I can’t help feeling a bit embarrassed. Not to worry, there’s plenty of stock left in my local shop and I can nip along Malcolmson’s if I need a loaf. Hang on a minute…..

So back to this end of the world business. For a start, the Mayan calendar did not prophesise anything of the kind. It was simply the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next. That didn’t stop the rumour, perpetuated by many a media organisation who should have known better, that the Mayans had predicted the end of time. The result was a tedious tirade of tongue in cheek news reports comprising American ‘survivalists’ talking about stocking up on canned foods and batteries, countered by ‘scientists’, to a soundtrack of REM’s ‘It’s the End of the World as we Know it’.

One story did hit a nerve amongst the nonsense – 33 schools in Michigan, USA closed for Christmas holidays two days early because of the predictions. Upon getting past the sensationalist headlines it became clear that something altogether more sinister than a cranky prediction was the cause – officials feared another school shooting in the wake of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children and 6 adults were shot some days before.

Apparently rumours had been circulating that copycats would use the supposedly significant date to perpetuate further horrors and school officials, probably wisely, didn’t want to take any chances. Sad times indeed, when an inaccurate historical prediction spread by ignorance in a nation awash with guns and in fear of mass shootings results in children missing out on their education.

Gun control continues to be controversial stateside but I find it astounding that, even in the wake of such tragedy, the ownership of assault rifles like the one used to slaughter the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School is defended by many in the USA.

The National Rifle Association’s remedy to the pervasiveness of such firearms is to further proliferate. They recently called for all schools to have armed guards. That oughta fix things and make for a safer education.

As the nation once again grapples with the issue of gun control and President Obama commissions a panel to curb gun violence the result has been an unprecedented jump in sales of assault rifles. The gun toting section of society, apparently in fear of having the rights to buy these weapons imminently removed, have been panic buying at gun stores across America in scenes that certainly trivialise the bread isle of Tesco.

Perhaps the end of the world prophecies weren’t so wrong?

Article for Shetland Life – January 2013