Here We Go - 09.14.98

The other night, I was downtown walking around with some friends when I guy with a handful of pamphlets came up to us and held out a couple of them for us to take. Usually, I say "No Thanks" and keep on going, but they were bigger and more glossy than the pamphlets I see being handed out almost every weekend. I snagged a copy of it and stuck it in my pocket until we got to the restaurant that my friends were going to grab some food at.

While they were ordering, I sat down at a table and flipped open the pamphlet to check out what it was preaching. It was a rather large tri-fold job done in all color on nice slick paper, and informed me of a conference that was going to be taking place at a local auditorium on one of the weekends to come. Apparently, the conference was a Year 2000 discussion, but it didn't have anything to do with the computer problem.

This pamphlet was more concerned with hellfire and brimstone type of things that were going to take place when the clock ticked over from 1999. Unfortunately, I didn't keep the pamphlet to reference specifically, but I do remember that it was rather fanatical, and it basically concerned the downfall of civilization.

While some (rather over-zealous, I think) people are predicting that the Year 2000 computing problem will bring about devastation almost as severe as the downfall of civilization, the pamphlet reminded me of a discussion that I had just had a couple weeks earlier with someone at a party.

The basic focus of our conversation was that basically, 1999 is going to be one really screwed-up year, for several reasons. The focus of this piece of writing is going to be the information that I say in the pamphlet, and the people who believe that those ideas are what is really going to happen.

Although neither of us really knew how many different religious sects and cults there are in the world (it would probably be difficult for someone to come up with a completely accurate number), but we ventured to say that the number is somewhere in the twenty-thousands (as there are over 6,000 languages in the world, that gives every language 3 different religions, which is probably still a little bit low). The second part of this equation was that even if 1 in 200 of them think that the year 2000 is the end of the world, that's still 200 sects that believe that the world is going to end when the clock rolls over.

Now, with that rough figure in mind, we tried to figure in the possible zealous-ness of these different groups. While the majority of them are probably peaceful, there is the outside chance that some of them may be militant in their beliefs. In saying that, I mean that they are intense enough in their beliefs to hurt people who aren't affiliated with the same ideas. In the past 4 years, there have been two large incidents (not counting smaller incidents) in which large groups of people (40 or more) committed group suicide because of their beliefs. Both the Order of The Solar Temple and the Heavens Gate cult were reclusive in their ways, though, and went about their business without doing any outside damage.

The problem that we figured could happen is if a particular group believes that the end of the world is the Year 2000, and it's actually honorable to kill as many other people as possible to save them as well (or however their beliefs work). On this occassion, it may be the work of a couple random individuals with off-kilter beliefs that harm innocent people (ie suicide bomber).

The main point that we came to is that we wouldn't be surprised at all if several weird events take place in 1999 that are cult-related. With several in the past year, and such a big date coming up on the calendar, the mathematical odds simply favor such occurrences. Perhaps the strangest thing about this all is that the above conversation took place at a beer party where we (2 sober people, perhaps too sober) were surrounded by drunk antics.