The Monsters are due on Maple Street in 2012
So, the holidays are over, everyone had time to visit with friends and family. We all ate too much and got nice presents and watched little kids go nuts and rip open packages, get new toys only in half of the instances to end up playing with the box all day. Most of us did a lot of Christmas shopping this year, retailers had a bigger year than last year but one particular retail sector set records, gun stores.
That’s right record gun sales in December, eclipsing the previous record set way back in November of that’s right, 2011. Why are so many people in the United States arming themselves? One of my favorite episodes from the original Twilight Zone series is called the Monsters are Due on Maple Street. It’s a typical neighborhood in 1950’s America on a Summer night, washing cars, barbecues and kids playing in the street. Then something streaks across the sky and a kid tells a story about alien invasion and ordinary people begin to turn on each other to find the monsters among them. In nuclear paranoid America there was always an undercurrent of fear and paranoia that the big one would fall. Take that tension and add just the right pressure and boom, neighbor against neighbor. Of course it’s the Twilight Zone so at the end of the episode the camera pulls back and two aliens talk about how this is exactly how they’ll do the invasion, the kid was right.
Well, a lot of the conditions that made Maple Street ripe for chaos are present today in America once again. We are in a world where the people of Arab nations are taking to the streets to free themselves from oppressive leaders. Iran and North Korea are less stable than they have been in quite some time. Occupy protestors are in the streets right here in the United States, and for good reason, our political system is broken, the current GOP Presidential race is more like reality TV than a process designed to possibly pick the next leader of the free world (whatever that is), our economy is dragging along on life support fearing the default of Italy or Spain, or Iran causing oil prices to spike. The income gap in the United States is larger than ever and unemployment still flies well above 8% and a whole lot of kids are going to graduate with college degrees this May and not find work.
Now we no longer live under the fear of imminent nuclear war, although Putin is doing a dandy job of raising the nerves of Washington establishment. However there is a lovely irrational fear that has permeated our culture, the Apocalypse. That’s right the end of the Mayan Calendar has had a perceptible impact on the psyche of Americans.
Now do I think the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 of course not, I mean really, just because Zippy the Mayan Calendar Maker stopped his calendar at the end of a cycle a thousand years in the future doesn’t mean he had some mystical insight into the future. Now I personally think ancient peoples get vastly under estimated for their level of intelligence and ability, but being psychic or having worked out the intricacies of plate tectonics, solar cycles, calculate universal gravitational constants and the rotation of planets imperceptible to modern man? I don’t think so.
The real risk from all of this Mayan silliness is the underlying pressure that it creates. The impact it has on all of those new gun owners and new breed survivalists. You see I don’t worry about the folks who have been building bunkers for years and setting up remote bug out locations. The people I fear are the ones who are scared and semi-prepared or not prepared at all. You see it’s that group of people who lose it for little or no reason. Take the real tensions in our world, add in the irrational tensions of doomsday and then throw a combination of unexpected events and you have a recipe for disaster. So say a heat wave this Summer triggers a power outage that crashes the grid for a couple of days, does a major metropolitan city meltdown under that scenario? What if that power outage happens on December 21st, how many of those new gun owners start shooting at their neighbors who want to come to their house to stay warm. To me what this says is that Maple Street is ready for the monsters and as Rod Serling said in the epilogue to that famous Twilight Zone episode, “the monsters are us.”