Rethinking the apocalypse

The word “apocalypse” is being used liberally these days, and summons images of widespread social breakdown and destruction, notes Rachel Webster, an associate professor of instruction in the Department of English.

But the poet and author points out that the Greek root of the word — apokálypsis — invokes another potential scenario entirely: “to uncover, reveal.”

“The apocalypse is a series of events that have blown off the cover of what was there all along,” Webster writes in an op-ed for the Evanston Roundable.

“We are all facing stark truths – in ourselves, our households and our society. This pandemic has revealed injustices and inequities that have been brewing for years. It has also revealed our ability to change habits and systems that before were thought to be unyielding.”

What are some of seemingly unchangeable habits and systems? Fewer incarcerations for youth and pardons of nonviolent elderly criminals are just two of the “things that were deemed impossible before COVID-19” that “are suddenly becoming possible.”

“For the first time, we are seeing that the economic growth can be curtailed in respect for human life, that relief checks can be deposited, that debt forgiveness, so long pronounced impossible, could be made attainable.”

The wrenching changes brought about the pandemic, she concludes, could also be pointing the way toward a more hopeful future.

We could confront this apocalypse as the kind of wrenching uncovering that happens whenever a seed sheds its husk to grow. We could use this time to germinate ideas, spread connective root systems, and then return to the world changed – humbled and more clarified in our ways of taking care of one another, and in co-creating the world we want.”

Read the entire piece here.