Camilla Gifford ponders the increasingly volatile natural and political landscape

Cairo's Tahir Square: part of a tapestry?

Middle Eastern insurrection.

World economies in tatters.

Biblical-scale natural disasters.

Such are the headlines we now encounter daily.  Why is it that, suddenly, we are bombarded with eschatological news all the time?

This month, all talk was of political uproar in Arab nations.  First, Tunisia ousted their president, prompting Egyptians to descend on Tahrir Square and force the malfeasant Mubarak to step down after a thirty year dictatorship.  The events sparked a wave of political protests in the region.  Now, similar reports are coming in from Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Jordan….  Perhaps a sign of a new start in that region: a ‘Year Zero’, maybe – although without the genocidal connotations – just a figurative return to a state of nature, where any ideology can take over, and society can be changed indefinitely.

This recent news seems quite significant when held up against the background of burgeoning economic problems.  The continued recession, government cuts and discussions of deficit foster a mood of underlying unrest; life seems unstable and erratic.  Perhaps another sign that times are changing and life as we know it will soon cease.

In recent years, we have come up against natural phenomena capable of shaking the planet.  The 2004 tsunami, killing over 200,000 people in 14 countries, was the third largest ever to be recorded.  It seemed to spark a chain of events. There was the Haitian earthquake, killing 316,000, wounding 300,000 and leaving a further 1 million destitute; the astronomical floods in Queensland, covering a surface area larger than France and Germany combined; and just this week, we hear of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, which has left hundreds dead and many more trapped.  Furthermore, in addition to the constant threat of global warming and environmental devastation, the Maldives are now sinking 20cm per year, making it likely that they will be completely submerged within twenty years.  There are also reports of explosions on the sun’s surface, threatening to interfere with our everyday gadgets that rely on satellite signals: mobile phones, Sat Navs, television.

Perhaps the aforementioned natural disasters can be blamed on growing environmental problems?  Perhaps the peoples’ revolts and economic troubles can be explained by years of growing political unrest and casual consumer attitudes.  But have you ever wondered whether it’s all due to something more sinister?

Of course, there have long been discussions about the possibility of a 2012 apocalypse, many of the suspicions stemming from an old Mayan belief that the ‘fourth age’ will end on December 21st 2012.  The day of reckoning or merely a new era, no scholar has yet determined which.  There are also various astrological predictions and complicated calculations surrounding planetary alignments and dates in 2012, supposedly signifying disastrous events.  Many will also question whether the Bible’s ‘Book of Revelation’ has any relevance.  The scenes of disaster and final confrontations are somewhat uncanny, particularly given the political references.  Are all the bad things that are happening around the globe signs of these prophecies being fulfilled?

It is, of course, complete speculation, but it does seem a little too coincidental to completely ignore.  Many will adopt a more logical approach in considering these issues, but the spiritual minds among us may be perturbed by these twists of fate.  Build your underground pods, horde food and water, invest in a space suit.  Better to be paranoid and over-prepared than to be hit by complete surprise.

Camilla Gifford