Pestilence, War, Famine and Death: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse don’t ever seem to take a vacation during these Interesting Times, do they?
In the Biblical book of Revelation, John of Patmos laid out what was quite possibly an altered-state dream (or prophetic vision, depending upon how you look at it) of the End of Days. Revelation 6 tells the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These figures ride out on their doom-steeds to bring waves of torment to a culture which, no matter the precise interpretation, is going through some Interesting Times. In light of the (most) recent failed end times prophecy by Christian numerologist David Meade in September (but which has been rescheduled for next week, apparently), let’s take a look at the real world problems and predicaments that could spell disaster far more effectively than mysteriously delayed appointments with the bashful Planet X.
The first of the Four Horsemen is oft characterized as Pestilence. If news of a rare epidemic of pneumonic plague spreading in Madagascar (it’s spread by coughing, and more than 30 people have died) is too far away to count, how about the less glamorous but still apocalyptic specter of antibiotic resistance? Scientists are reporting that a gene called mcr-1, which makes bacteria immune to Colistin (an antibiotic of last resort), has been spreading at an alarming rate. Discovered in 2011, it spread around the world in 18 months. Because the effectiveness of antibiotics has been squandered on the meat industry and medical over-prescription, we’re now looking at a future where procedures we now consider routine, such as C-sections and appendectomies, will be just as deadly as they would have been when John of Patmos was tripping balls.
The second of the Four Horsemen rode the red horse of War. Here in the US, we’re certainly no stranger to conflict; we’ve been at war during the overwhelming majority of American history. Certainly, most of those wars were fought with muskets, rifles, tanks, or drones. The only time we played the atomic card was to end WWII. Acute awareness of the cost of nuclear conflict sobered us, and even as war continues, grownups in the halls of power kept the worst genie in the bottle. Until, possibly, now: what happens when crazy children have their thumbs on The Button? At two separate photo ops last week, Trump said that we’re experiencing “the calm before the storm,” with a wink and a nod to the military men around him. When a ratings-obsessed narcissist hints around at possibly nothing, possibly a round or two with some other nuclear state like North Korea, that should turn all our guts to water.
The third of the Four Horsemen, Famine, doesn’t have to be a natural event, although we’re tempting fate the way we’re abusing our once-rich soil. No, just ask any conservative critic of Communist collectives, famine can just as easily be a political tool. That’s why it’s a bit surprising that the GOP would cannibalize a large part of its voting base – the elderly, the rural, and the barely scraping by – simply to benefit their other sponsors, the wealthy. Farmers, the unemployed, and the working poor have reason to fear cuts to SNAP, or what food stamps are called now. Supporting the transfer of surplus commodity crops to those who needed food used to be a no-brainer, a bipartisan win-win for both rural producers and urban consumers, but now the Trump administration is sharpening its chopping ax, looking to worsen a political famine for the hungriest Americans.
The last of the Four Horsemen, of course, is Death. We’ve seen more than enough of it lately. Battered by hurricanes (themselves worsened by our own actions), the Gulf Coast and Caribbean islands took hit after hit. Despite Trump’s claims (and paper towels), conditions in Puerto Rico are grim, with more people being lost to intense heat, hospitals running for weeks on emergency generators (if they can get fuel to run them), and acute food and water shortages. Meanwhile, yet another white male shooter gunned down an incredible number of human beings in Las Vegas. Even the “merely injured” have reason to worry, because while the shooter’s guns are considered a basic American right, victims’ health care is not. On average, gun-related injuries cost surviving victims $5,000 for the initial emergency room visit and an additional $95,000 for inpatient care, and that’s not counting potential re-admissions and rehabilitation, or lost wages. That’s just par for the course in America’s “pro-life” death culture, where if you don’t have the money or the insurance, or your insurance drops you as unprofitable in your moment of need, may the Lamb in Revelation have mercy on you, because the conservatives sure won’t.
Here in America, it’s not the Apocalypse, it’s just business as usual.