If you don’t think the world is ending, just flip through the average mainstream newspaper.

During the May long weekend, the front page of the Toronto edition of Metro shouted warnings of an impending apocalypse—apparently scheduled for May 21. The coverage focused on the California-based broadcaster Family Radio—the group predicting the end of days—and responses to its prediction by the wider public, including local environmentalists. Tom Evans, a spokesperson for Family Radio, suggested that, if the world didn’t come to an end on May 21, “God is a liar.”

If the predictions of Family Radio aren’t enough to convince you about the end of the world, there is plenty of other evidence. As you move past the usual Bible-thumping rhetoric, you will find countless signs that the world is going to the dogs.

It may not be the kind of fire and brimstone you’ve come to expect, or even flooding, earthquakes or mudslides (although there seems to be lots of that, too). But unless the world soon changes dramatically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more frequent predictions of the coming apocalypse.

For instance, page ten of the Metro reports that former leader of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Khan, is currently in jail for allegedly raping a hotel worker in New York City. Strauss-Khan, the man in charge of organizing monetary support for the developing world where IMF aid packages often exacerbate the exploitation and oppression of women, now stands accused of sexual assault. As a result of his million-dollar bail, Strauss-Khan is now being held under “elaborate house arrest” in a private Manhattan apartment with armed guards.

Then there is our favourite body-builder-turned-actor-turned-California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger—also known as “Conan the Republican” or the “Governator.” Schwarzenegger is now getting divorced following revelations about his 10-year-old love child that no one had ever heard of. Not surprisingly, his soon-to-be ex-wife Maria Shriver is now considering writing another book.

Speaking of books, one Hilary Winston has recently published her life story, originally titled My Boyfriend Wrote A Book About Me, a revenge novel about her various boyfriends, in response to a novel one of these guys wrote about her. According to the article, Winston’s work is no skin off his back: “He’s really egocentric. He likes the fact that I wrote a book about him.”

Finally, there is the ongoing release of video messages by Osama Bin Laden. It makes me wonder: is there a special branch of al Qaeda that gets paid to release and promote Bin Laden’s ante mortem video blogs? Honestly I would not be surprised if Osama was chilling on a Cali beach right now.

But don’t ask anyone in the CIA, because any employees sharing actual truths about bin Laden’s death face prosecution, according to a memo issued by CIA head Leon Panetta. You can read all about it in a tiny five-line blurb at the bottom of page 15, next to an ad for Crocs.

Bin Laden was the “justification” for the decade-long War on Terror, first in Afghanistan and later in Iraq. His death has been exploited by Obama to counter Republican accusations that he is soft on terror and to give US imperialism a reason to intervene in Pakistan, which is likely the next target on the US hit list.

You can read more of Bin Laden’s message on page 15 of the Metro: he “praised the mass protests that have toppled and shaken long-time rulers across the Arab world while trying to cast a role for Al Qaeda.” As far as I can see, this is an attempt to co-opt the brilliant and inspiring resistance in North African and Middle Eastern countries, connecting Bin Laden to a movement that has rejected his politics.

There was real-life twenty-first-century revolution in Egypt, and somebody decided it was a good opportunity to reinforce the supposed distinction between so-called “Islamic terror” and U.S.-backed terror.

“Though both Bin Laden and the West have generally supported protest movements in the Middle East,” reads the article, “their goals differ.”

No, I’m sorry, don’t even try it. Don’t take the removal of Hosni Mubarak and make it your own. That victory belongs to the Egyptian people, not to Bin Laden or any supposed terrorist support, and definitely not to Western support.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? We live in a world where newspapers print information that pleases the corporations that own them, where government “leaders” adjust policies to benefit destructive capitalism.

Finding the truth is tough: it’s hidden like gold. Only it’s not like gold because gold is something people kill for, and the truth is something people die for. Silently, people die, every day, every hour, every minute, all over the world, for war, for money, for sex slaves, for drugs and for worse. People are dying in Mexico, Sierra Leone, Palestine and here in Canada as well. But the majority of us continue along, fed simulated truths and simulated food, told to think less and shop more.

Is this any way to live? So unaware of our rights or the rights of our neighbours that we don’t even realize when they’re taken away?

It’s like living empty and soulless. This is why so many people are depressed nowadays—and why people keep predicting the end of the world!

Even sheep can sense the slaughter approaching, but we still don’t realize that the way we live is destroying the Earth. It is destroying our bodies and our minds. With every can of Coke, new pair of shoes, F-16 fighter jet and reality TV star, we are little by little robbing ourselves of our own humanity.

Something needs to change.

(Otherwise, I won’t be at all surprised if and when lightning bolts start falling from the sky.)

as published in the Ryerson Free Press, June 2011