Written By: Sarah Nayeem
My first 'end of the world' imagery was a description of a nightmare my Father had and shared with me, of an angel blowing a trumpet and the Earth crumbling with the Arabic word for the end or 'akirah' spread across the sky, terrified humans scattered around awaiting their final judgment. This imagery is directly woven from descriptions in the Quran and other religious books' account of the last day or the Day of Judgment. My terror of the last day extended towards God at that time, who would order this event eventually according to the text. From there, my memory jumps to the radio, a catchy song by REM, sugary, danceable, dramatic and ironic that still carries its weight as an anthem. 'It's the end of the world, and I feel fine.' Released during the same decade of the Crack Epidemic, this song reflects the insidious uncoupling of man made trauma and destruction from our collective emotional state and eroding consciousness of our impact on each other and the environment. The death march of man made trauma has been escalating since the industrial revolution to a gallop and now a sprint. Global warming, mass incarceration, slavery, war and deforestation all in the name of colonial and corporate greed and an acquired taste to 'get whatever we want when we want it' and protect that at any price. A society that wants high fashion but murders the trans women who inspired it. That wants to paint rainbows on corporate logos but deny life saving health care to trans children. A violent society that refuses to recognize itself fully in the mirror. Colonization, capitolism and white supremecy insidiously imposes expansive and devestating trauma on humanity, all life and the Earth itself with its scope expanding to outer space- the absolute terror hidden in plain sight. Like the patents on Covid vaccines to protect profits that could prevent mass trauma and loss in countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. We are distracted by the freedom to have a banana any season of the year we want in the produce aisle when we want it, numb to the backstory. We are numb and all efforts are made to erase the fact that the original 'capitol' of this land, the source of its' wealth, was established by the brutal labor of kidnapped and enslaved African people. If we remember this, we would recognize mass incarceration and the exploitation of prison laborers in its full continuity. The doomsday clock has been unfolding quite possibly since the onset of life itself. It is programmed in our cells, death inseparable from life. But it is the death of our empathy, creativity, imagination and interconnectedness- like the symbiosis between microbes that allow trees to communicate- that is salvageable and could allow humanity to salvage itself. Trauma overwhelms, it prevents us from the homeostatic balance required to remember facts like our neurons resemble trees themselves, that we are of the Earth and interconnected. This Indigenous wisdom is essential for the sake of this entire Earth. It is no coincidence there is a crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women right now. We are destroying the Earth and each other. It is the death of our consciousness, our empathy and our fundamental nature as social creatures that is rapidly progressing and will lead to a rapid demise if the forces driving the death march aren't dismantled. Maybe an angel will hark the last day or not, but the more pressing question to me is: what horrors are we willing to continue to inflict on each other, on living beings and this Earth to preserve our current way of life? The death of imagination and care sounds like the end to me.