Final Paper: Nuclear Weapons Leading to Apocalypse

After gaining insight from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, and hearing recent class discussions, I was intrigued to research more about Nuclear weapons and their potential to leading to human apocalypse. I have come up with the thesis that nuclear weapons are a technology of high power and have a strong potential in today’s society and have a likely potential to lead to the downfall of human civilization. Through analysis of the history of the making of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons in today’s society, the impact of such weaponry, and the relation to class sources, I will explore how nuclear weapons could lead to an apocalyptic event in the future.

According to Oxford Dictionary, a nuclear weapon is defined as a bomb or missile that uses nuclear energy to cause an explosion. Nuclear weapons made their impact on society starting in the early 1940s. The United States turned a page in technology in 1942 with the beginnings of the invention of Nuclear Weaponry. August of 1942 was the start of the Manhattan Project in the US employed 130,000 individuals and spent billions of dollars creating the first nuclear weapon. This development would soon be used in July and August of 1945 when the US tested and implemented their Atomic Bomb. Equivalent to over 20,000 tons of TNT, the United States shook the world physically and mentally with their bold move of dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When considering the technology behind nuclear weapons, it’s important to explore the science behind it. According to Arms Control Association, “The first design of a nuclear weapon in the United States was a gun-barrel assembly, in which two sub-critical masses of very highly enriched uranium (HEU), were brought together by normal artillery propellant in a short gun barrel into a single over-critical configuration.” The world had to start somewhere in the creation of such a powerful weapon that it makes sense that they used a set up similar to weapons popular at the time, guns. The advancements in the technology moved rapidly and according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Most nuclear weapons today are two-stage thermonuclear weapons that derive their explosive energy from the combined power of nuclear fission and fusion. An initial fission reaction generates the high temperatures needed to trigger a secondary—and much more powerful—fusion reaction.” This starts to show how advanced the technology has become and all of the small details that goes in to such a large piece of machinery. Since the start of construction of nuclear weapons, there have been over 67,500 nuclear missiles built and over 4,680 nuclear bombers built all over the world. Nuclear weapons not only pose a threat of immediate explosion and wide-spread radiation, but there are also many secondary effects such as the contamination of all food and water supply, the pollution of air, and the destruction of power grids. This is not to mention the threat of a nuclear winter, a period of abnormal cold and darkness predicted to follow a nuclear war, caused by a layer of smoke and dust in the atmosphere blocking the sun’s rays. An article from Mother Nature Network states, “In 2007, scientists Brian Toon and Alan Robock concluded that if India and Pakistan were to launch 50 nuclear weapons at each other, the entire planet could experience 10 years of smoke clouds and a three-year temperature drop” (11 ways).
The reactions to this bold and hazardous weapon were dependent on the nation. In 1946, the UN attempted to create an anti-nuclear weapon act banning the use of such weapons. Their plan failed as the Soviet Union became the second nation to successfully create and test a nuclear device in August of 1949. As of 2014, a total of 9 countries are armed with nuclear weapons that can be launched within a minutes notice. Since the creation of the first atomic bomb, nuclear warfare has only been used as a form of attack twice in our world history. This was the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Although not used in harm, there have been over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted as more and more countries began to create their own weapons. . If we base numbers off of the amount of deaths caused from the bombing on Hiroshima, the United States alone has built enough nuclear warheads to kill 25,000,000,000 people between initial, immediate deaths and the effects of radiation. This makes nuclear weapons the most powerful and detrimental technology there is.

Nuclear weapons were viewed as a large threat in 1962 during the Cubin Missile Crisis. In October of 1963, it was brought to President John F. Kennedy’s attention that the US had obtained aerial footage of what seemed to b e a nuclear plant in Cuba. This lead to nuclear weapons being the largest threat of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Professor Ernest May writes an atrial about John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis and states, “Dwight Eisenhower (Kennedy’s successor), had calculated in 1960 that, if a crisis led either side to fire nuclear weapons, all humans in the northern hemisphere could perish. ‘Gravest issues’ indeed.”

Such rapid production of mass killing devices is a topic easily related to recent discussions and readings of Crisis and Apocalyptic events we’ve experienced in class.

Nuclear weaponry can relate to our reading of Oreskes’ “Collapse of Western Civilization” when stated, “In the prehistory of “civilization,” many societies rose and fell…” Although differing in the main topic, this reading can strongly relate to the effect nuclear weapons had on civilizations and society as a whole. This reading goes on to refer to actions being predictable and accurate which was very untrue of the consequences of nuclear weaponry in its beginning stages. When first brought about, nuclear weapons were seemingly unpredictable and risky. At the turn of the century, society is able to much more accurately predict what the consequences of nuclear weapons would be based on past experience. The world can assume the destruction brought about by such intense weaponry and can envision the world at its collapse with such technology, but no man can fully foresee what the world would look like amidst such chaos. After our discussion in class, it was brought to my mind about apocalyptic events and how the production and use of nuclear weapons could, in fact, lead to a self-induced apocalypse. The world has become a dangerous place with power put into the hands of people who are thought to be trusted. No matter what level of trust we have in those superior to us, there is always room for conflict. Today’s world is a dangerous place and seems to never have peace. I truly believe that World War III will happen within the next 100 years and that very little will survive of it. I also believe that World War IV will be fought the way original battles were hundreds of years ago and our world will begin anew. I truly do believe that the real ending to the world as we know it will be when Jesus comes to rescue all that is left of the world but I plan on further exploring how nuclear weapons could bring about an apocalypse of their own.

Early in the semester we read An Archive of Feelings by Ann Cvetkovich. This book describes the struggles and trauma of women as an archive. Oxford Dictionary defines an archive as a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people. If we analyze nuclear weapons as an archive, we can see more about their history and the effect they have on society. Nuclear weapons were created practically incidentally when splitting the smallest of subatomic particles and developed into a world-wide phenomenon of both safety and danger. In further analysis of this archive, we can see the potential ending, that being, an apocalypse. This potential for destruction is similar to the trauma being experience in Cvetkovich’s, “An Archive of Feelings.”

Apocalypse Never is a book written by Tad Daley that describes the reasoning behind why nuclear weapons should be abolished or our world will perish. Valerie Plame Wilson of firdoglake.com states, “Apocalypse Never is a frightening book to read but impossible to put down. In clear, accessible prose, Tad Daley unblinkingly lays out the case, point by point, for why we must ultimately rid the world of nuclear weapons or else suffer the inevitable consequences of the end of civilization as we know it. Daley then takes on the task of showing how this seemingly Herculean task can be accomplished, even within our lifetimes. It is compelling and accurate in its assessments and one of the absolute best out there on why we simply cannot continue along the way it has been.”

The topic of nuclear weapons is one that seems very “hush hush” and is not confronted head on as it should be. Many people know the possibility of their use exits but are too naïve to believe it will ever happen. Since there are not bombs being launched left and right, it seems as though it will never actually happen in our lifetime. On March 15, 2015, it was released in articles from The Independent (UK News) that Vladimir Putin of Russia was prepared to release nuclear missiles on the United States of America saying, “They (USA) helped training the nationalists, their armed groups, in Western Ukraine, in Poland and to some extent in Lithuania. They facilitated the armed coup” when speaking on the annexation of the Black Sea and Ukraine Crisis (Vladimir Putin).

Our world has become a very advanced and powerful place to live and it is not crazy to believe that one small instance could put civilization up in flames, literally and figuratively.

Works Cited

“Apocalypse Never – Rutgers University Press.” Apocalypse Never – Rutgers University Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

“Arms Control Today.” The Technology of Nuclear Weapons. N.p., 1 Nov. 1997. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

May, Ernest R. “John F Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” BBC News. BBC, 18 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

“Nuclear Weapons: How They Work (2010).” Union of Concerned Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

“Nuclear Weapons Timeline.” ICAN. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

“Vladimir Putin Says Russia Was Preparing to Use Nuclear Weapons ‘if Necessary’ and Blames US for Ukraine Crisis.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 15 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

“11 Ways the World Could End: Nuclear War.” MNN. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

Advertisements

Apocalyptic Fears

There has always been a fascination with the idea of the apocalypse and what that would look like. Today, there is a significant focus on a zombie apocalypse, which is where a disease infects a human that kills the host but the disease lives on feeding off human flesh; however, when a human is bitten, this infects that human, and thus leading to a worldwide viral outbreak where everyone are zombies. This seems completely irrational; but yet, this idea has attracted a large audience. What makes people attract to this idea? It could be that it is very close to real factors. For example, the idea of “zombies” sounds too sci-fi, but the idea of a disease wiping out a large population is not so unrealistic. So, it could be a matter of how fear can effect how one views the apocalypse. Therefore, one can narrow their thinking in a way to relate to why people are attracted to these apocalyptic ideals; fear fuels the reality of an apocalypse in two ways: Through what is heard and through what is seen.

An example of how fear can fuel the reality of an apocalypse through what is heard is the radio broadcast of 1938. During the eve of Halloween October 30, 1938, Orson Welles, famous theatre director and radio actor, broadcasted a drama of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, in what seemed like a serious news broadcast. During this time, people would eat dinner and then sit down to an evening of listening to the radio. Turning the dial, listeners were scanning the stations to find something to listen to; however, most missed the introduction that included the disclaimer that the following broadcast was only a dramatization, where Martians invade earth and begin killing everyone in sight. Within a half hour of the broadcast, panic filled the streets and Orson Welles was being forced to take a ten minute break to reassure listeners that this was only a fake broadcast, but most listeners had already packed their bags and were trying to leave the city. It was a major moment in history because the fear and panic of what could be a real Martian invasion caused thousands to tremble and some to end their own life (War of the Worlds). People were enraged by this fake news broadcast. Later, listeners on that fateful night were interviewed to explain what was going through their heads at that moment. This is a real life example of how fear can impact the irrationality of emotion. The mind is able to play a role in manipulation of what is real or not. This example shows how one can take a simple act of trickery and impact the lives of many into believing something that is clearly fiction. One listener admitted that as he was in his car leaving the city, and because he heard this broadcast and it was late at night that he could literally see what looked to be Martians over the trees. Of course, it was a fiction of his imagination, but due to the realness of the broadcast, it caused his mind to see what was not there.

One view of the apocalypse that was popular during the mid-to-late 1900s was that a nuclear warfare would take place, resulting in the destruction of the earth. People were terribly frightened that the world was going to end because of the creation of Atomic Bombs. Cities were destroyed and many lives were devastated because of these acts of horror, and because it was so real, fear took hold of the minds of many. Thus, books and films were made to capitalize on this fear, to create an imaginary world after a chemical warfare. An example is the film, Book of Eli, in which the earth was scorched and in desolation because of a world war. The characters live in what looks to be a desert ruin, scarce food and minimal water cause many to resort to robbery and murder (The Book of Eli). This film shows the imaginative world in a post-war setting. While some might not think this is a valid outcome, this work of fiction can trigger fear in the lives of many just by the mere thought of it. This is an example of how fear can fuel the reality of an apocalypse. In the fact, during that time; people saw countries making these bombs and saw the test sites where bombs were tested. Less than a decade later after the Orson Welles broadcast, Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first cities in the world to witness the power of nuclear weapons. Therefore, what one sees can dramatically effect how people react to these apocalyptic ideals.

Now that there is a baseline for this topic, it is important to know the application of fear. Fear can be a broad area to focus on because so many fears are associated with many different things for different individuals. However, it is important to know what fear is or is not. Fear is a cognitive perception of one thing or another. In an anatomy class, one can learn about “the flight or fight response,” which is induced by fear and danger to either run away or fight. The initial response is in the amygdala, located in the brain, that signals to the adrenal medulla, which is located just above the kidneys, responsible for hormonal secretion, including adrenaline. Furthermore, these organs result the natural response of fear in a given situation. Although, as mentioned previously, it is a perception issue, so a fear to one person may not be a fear to another.

Depending on how one is raised can determine how one perceives the application of fear what is important to be afraid of or restrain from. Religion is one building block of how this can be viewed. According to Richard Eckersley in his essay about apocalyptic fears, he illustrates that “fundamentalism refers to the retreat to the certainty of dogmatic beliefs, whether secular or religious. In an extreme form, this is ‘end time’ thinking” (Eckersley 37). Here, Eckersley shows a view from a Christian standpoint that this belief is to illustrate the fear of the Rapture taking place. So, depending on family belief systems, it can influence how one perceives the apocalypse to take place.

Fear is always a response to a situation or in anticipation of that situation and has many responses including freezing, chills, sweating, and screaming. When presented with a frightening situation, the body’s response could include, but not be exclusive to, what is listed above. Fear is closely associated with anxiety too. One can physically feel the response of anxiety: heart rate increase, overwhelming feelings, depression of what might happen. So, with fear being so closely associated with anxiety, it can effect how one handles a situation, whether they dwell on it or let it go. A lot of depression issues are due to anxiety, which can be a response to how one handles fear. Depression is a big issue in the U.S. along with many other countries, but one could argue that it is due to the fear of the unknown. Fear tactics have been placed on every person in one way or another. In Christianity, the fear of the Rapture is always in the forefront of people’s minds. When Year 2,000 came, many people believed that the Rapture would take place, but it didn’t. People actually committed suicide or caused violence in response to what they believed to be an apocalyptic time. It’s interesting and scary to see how far people will go if they think it is the end of days.

In Naomi Oreskes’ essay, “The Collapse of Western Civilization: a View from the Future,” Oreskes says, “dislocation contributed to the Second Black Death, as a new strain of the bacterium Yersinia pestis emerged in Europe and spread to Asia and North America…disease also spread among stressed nonhuman populations” (Oreskes 9). Here, Oreskes is discussing events from the future but looking in the past and is referring to a widespread disease that affected not only humans but animals too. This essay is interesting because it ties in factors that lead to other problems. For example, Global Warming was an issue that was mainly discussed in this essay, but here Oreskes illustrates that other factors are at play. The point is that when examining one apocalyptic ideal, one can easily jump to a different world epidemic that is still related in terms of apocalypse. Thus, increasing one’s anxiety about how an apocalypse could take place.

Throughout history, one can see how people can plant the seed of manipulation and let the mind come up with its own agenda through fear. Is a Zombie apocalypse possible? No. However, it links closely with real life issues. For example, diseases have always been a threat to populations. The Black Death was a disease in the 1300s that killed nearly one-third of Europe’s population (Black Death). Disease is nature’s way of reducing the population, and while a Zombie apocalypse is fictional, the idea of diseases is not.

It is scary to think how far people’s minds will go into believing certain things, but one must keep their thoughts at bay as to what is true and false. It is hard to say what kind of apocalypse is more possible than others, if any is possible, but fear is the major tool in capturing attention to these ideas. If someone has the power of manipulation and forces fear on others, then it is hard to say what kind of world epidemic could come of such power. One reason why people are attracted to these fictional apocalyptic ideas, is not only because it is based off of something slightly true (like disease is to Zombie), but also because some people want to feel the fear and excitement of a need for survival, to prove that they have what it takes to survive.

Therefore, it is important to keep in mind what fear can do, and how it can manipulate one’s thoughts and actions. Knowing that fear can fuel the reality of an apocalypse through what is heard and seen can help people recognize when they are being manipulated. When listening, not letting those words influence an action. When seeing, making sure what you see is real and not letting what you see entirely influence actions. Use both tools, seeing and hearing, to come up with the hypothesis that what is seen and heard, together, is real. When separated, these tools can lead to a factor of manipulation, which is not the best way to take action.

Works Cited

“Black Death.” History.com. A+E Networks, Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Eckersley, Richard. “Nihilism, Fundamentalism, Or Activism: Three Responses To Fears Of The Apocalypse.” Futurist 42.1 (2008): 35-39. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future.” Daedalus 142.1 (2013): 40-58. Web.

The Book of Eli. Dir. Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes. Prod. Joel Silver and Denzel Washington. By Gary Whitta. Perf. Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis. Warner Bros., 2010. DVD.

War of the Worlds. Orson Welles. American Experience. PBS, Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Apocalyptic Fears: Personal Reflection

As I began researching a topic, I began to think about the things that I liked to watch, specifically movies and TV shows. One thing that intrigued me was the thought of the apocalypse and those types of sci-fi topics. Even though everything in sci-fi is completely imaginative, it is still a topic that apparently intrigues a large population because more and more TV shows are coming out with this theme.

Even as a young boy, I loved watching movies, whether it’s a comedy, horror, or action/adventure. To this day, my friends and family always know that if they are thinking of a movie but can’t remember the title, they can probably ask me and I will know. It’s funny looking back on all the movies and shows that I have watched throughout my life thus far. But, I have noticed a theme; when I want to watch a scary or interesting movie, I tend to go for the apocalyptic movies.

For instance, I used to watch Waterworld as a kid, which is about a post-apocalyptic world that is based on a global warming issue. It is interesting because I could always imagine myself in another world, a new world. So, early on that new world meant anywhere but at this time on earth. Whether it is a post-apocalyptic earth setting or that the earth was wiped out so a new planet needs to be inhabited.

The movie, Time Machine is another good one. It’s about a guy whose fiancée got murdered right after proposing to her in a park, the murderer was trying to rob them. He develops this time machine many years later and travels back in time, only to find out that he can’t change her dying. In the midst of his distress, he accidently shifts forward into the future many centuries and finds himself in a world run by “moon people” who are trying to capture humans. As a kid, this was a frightening concept, moon people, but regardless it was fascinating.

In my researching a topic, I thought about the new movies and TV shows that I have watched recently: Helix, 12 Monkeys, Book of Eli, World War Z, even Planet of the Apes. All of these movies and shows reveal a world of desolation, whether it’s a virus outbreak, or Apes running the earth. I am currently hooked on the show, Helix, which is about a viral outbreak in a small population that if not stopped, could lead to a world epidemic. Do I think this could happen? No. But, it is interesting to think about, because there are so many diseases and drugs that could potentially wipe out a large portion of our planet.

So, needless to say, my topic is very interesting to me. My many years of watching movies and being fascinated with sci-fi concepts seemed to pay off. I personally believe that the apocalypse will happen according to God’s plan, but I do think that it is possible that some people could think that they can structure God’s plan around creating a virus that could devastate a large portion of the world. I am not naïve to the fact that, in the wrong hands, certain things could influence an apocalyptic world. Nuclear Weapons are another category to get into regarding this apocalyptic possibility, but that’s for someone else to write about.

Our Class Archive of Essays

As I began looking through the different blog posts, I saw a post about nuclear weapons that was of particular interest to me because nuclear weapons, at least for me, is not an advancement that I often think of in today’s society. When the student began their personal reflection of the topic, it was mentioned that the lecture on the apocalypse triggered this topic; I too, have been writing on an apocalyptic theme, so I comprehended the interest in this topic already.

The student talked about freedom from nuclear fear in the sense that the location of the student is not as threatened, politically, by a nuclear attack. I find this evaluation to be true, because if you think of Ohio, it does not pose threat toward persecution; in contrast, places like New York where highly populated areas are threatened by terrorist attacks or political reform can be at a higher level of risk.

This country is very lucky to be so free; no one has to worry about be persecuted religiously. In fact, people flee to this country to escape this persecution. The streets are not armed with military holding guns, men in uniform, or the constant fear that we could be falsely accused of something, resulting in a beheading. It’s important to realize how lucky we are to live in such a great country that lets us live our lives the way we see fit. However, it is also important to realize the dangers that we are at risk to. We are at risk to terrorism, but we mitigate that risk when we migrate to places that are less populated and less politically evident. Thus, Ohioans are great examples of those who are in between, so there is less likely of a terrorist attack here. Like the student mentioned, places like NY and D.C. are more apt to have riskier consequences being in that area.

I like how the student was able to tie in their own beliefs into the reflection because it’s important to know where the author stands on the issue at hand. Those values and beliefs are what make a person. When analyzing nuclear weaponry, it would be good to understand that even though the world may end the way you think it will, think about the effects of what nuclear weaponry can bring in general, not only that it could lead to an apocalypse. I am sure there is a lot to go off of with this topic, and obviously I am not doing this particular project, but keep in mind the fact that weapons may not “end” the world, but that it could dramatically effect it.

The world can be a dangerous place, but here in America, we are so lucky to have the freedom to walk the streets unarmed and unafraid of being accused of a specific religion and being persecuted for that belief system. Overall, this was a great personal reflection of the topic, and I see similarities with myself about this topic. It really reminds me of how thankful we all should be to have the opportunity to live here and express our freedom in whatever way we choose. Great essay!

Apocalypse: Looking Through the Lens of Fear

Looking at different books and films of the apocalypse, there seems to be a significance of truth to these concepts. The idea of an apocalypse does not necessarily mean that the world is ending or that the world will be in desolation, but it could just mean an end to an era. The word “apocalypse” is used fairly loosely in describing what one thinks the world will be in the future.

In examining the film World War Z,[1] it is clearly evident that a world epidemic is happening in New York City resulting from a viral outbreak, thus leading to zombies. As the characters scramble for a cure, those infected with the virus try to infect others to spread this disease throughout the world. We can look at this from the perspective of fear; we, as humans, fear a disease that could potentially wipe out the human race, and we strive to keep our species alive. It’s applicable that this type of apocalypse seems appealing, not only from the point that it is fictional, but also because it has some minor truth to it. Advances in modern medicine and genetic engineering has caused many to fear what would happen if a virus got out of a lab somewhere. So, there is a direct relationship in today’s society why this apocalypse is relevant today.

When analyzing the film Book of Eli,[2] we see a correlation between why that apocalypse happened and why it is a significant study today. The idea in this film is that the earth was scorched by a world war, nuclear warfare, which created a world of scarce food and water. The characters struggle to find fresh water, and find things like Chap Stick to be very valuable. The world they live in looks to be a desert ruin, covered with deserted cars, while trying to survive the raids that gangs will perform for any kind of supplies. If we take that apocalyptic world and apply the significance to today, we see that a nuclear war is not far off. During the Cold War, it was literally fighting for who could make the biggest bomb, so this movie idea was not far from actual truth in the fact that people were concerned that one country was going to destroy the world just to prove a point. Even today with laws and restrictions governing that there will be no arms race, it is still evident that other countries are still making these nuclear weapons. So, the fear is very real, no matter how fictional an apocalyptic world may be.

There are many films to examine; however, I will draw attention to one last film, and that is The Planet of the Apes.[3] In this film, obviously from the title, we can gather that the world is run by apes, who treat humans as if we treat apes now (experiments, zoos, etc.). This type of apocalypse is different from the others in that there is very little truth in it. To us, apes could never gain the intelligence to outsmart humans, but what’s is interesting with the newest films of this type is that the apes could not come up with the intelligence themselves, that it was originally a trial for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but that actually made the apes intelligent. So, even though this idea is little more fictional, it still has the same concept as a viral disease would, but instead of infecting humans it infects primates.

In conclusion, it is interesting to think through different lenses when discussing how an apocalypse may or may not happen, and how valid these ideas are in today’s views. There is a correlation with fear and the apocalypse and that there is a truth to all these concepts to a certain extent, whether it’s a topic on Global Warming, Zombie Apocalypse, or a planet run by apes. When thinking about each concept, it’s important to think about how these different ideas came to mind in the writers; there is a simple truth to all of them and looking at the time in which they are written can show why “this” apocalypse is more appealing than another.

[1] World War Z. Dir. Marc Forster. Perf. Brad Pitt. Universal Pictures, 2013. DVD.

[2] The Book of Eli. Dir. Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes. Prod. Joel Silver and Denzel Washington. By Gary Whitta. Perf. Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis. Warner Bros., 2010.

[3] Planet of the Apes. Dir. Franklin J. Schaffner. Perf. Charlton Heston. 1968.

Apocalyptic Fears: Research Question

I began my research to identify one basic question: what is fear? I started with the idea of apocalyptic fears and how they are rationed through a sense of fact. This simply means that fears are evolved from factual data. For instance, one is not afraid of an actual “Zombie Apocalypse,” but what they are afraid of is a viral outbreak or a deadly disease that could spread across the globe like a fire. Fear can be a broad area to focus on because so many fears are associated with many different things for different individuals. However, it is important to know what fear is or is not. Fear is a cognitive perception of one thing or another. In an anatomy class, you can learn about “the flight or fight response” which is induced by fear and danger to either run away or fight. The initial response is in the amygdala, located in the brain, that signals to the adrenal medulla, which is located just above the kidneys, responsible for hormonal secretion, including adrenaline. Furthermore, these organs result the natural response of fear in a given situation. Although, as mentioned previously, it is a perception issue, so a fear to one person may not be a fear to another.

It is also important to figure out what application fear has. For example, depending on how one is raised can determine how one perceives the application of fear what is important to be afraid of or restrain from. Religion is one building block of how this can be viewed. According to Richard Eckersley in his essay about apocalyptic fears, he illustrates that “Fundamentalism refers to the retreat to the certainty of dogmatic beliefs, whether secular or religious. In an extreme form, this is ‘end time’ thinking.”[1] Here, Eckersley shows a view from a Christian standpoint that this belief is to illustrate the fear of the Rapture taking place. So, depending on family belief systems, it can influence how one perceives the apocalypse to take place.

Fear is always a response to a situation or in anticipation of that situation. Fear has many responses including freezing, chills, sweating, and screaming. If you think about the last time you were seriously scared, what happened? Your body could have jumped in response to the situation, you began to be terrified of the situation, or maybe you could not physically move because you were so scared. These are only a few of the responses. Fear is closely associated with anxiety too. You can physically feel the response of anxiety: heart rate increase, overwhelming feelings, depression of what might happen. So, with fear being so closely associated with anxiety, it can effect how one handles a situation, whether they dwell on it or let it go. A lot of depression issues are due to anxiety, with can be a response to how one handles fear. Depression is a big issue in the U.S. along with many other countries, but I believe it’s because of the fear of the unknown. Fear tactic have been placed on every person in one way or another. In Christianity, the fear of the Rapture is always in the forefront of people’s minds. When Year 2,000 came, many people believed that the Rapture would take place, but it didn’t. People actually committed suicide or caused violence in response to what they believed to be an apocalyptic time. It’s interesting and scary to see how far people will go if they think it’s the end of days.

All of these examinations and thoughts have led me to the research question: Why is fear of the apocalypse relevant?

[1] Eckersley, Richard. “Nihilism, Fundamentalism, Or Activism: Three Responses To Fears Of The Apocalypse.” Futurist 42.1 (2008): 35-39. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.