Conspiracy Theory, Natural Disasters, and Fulfilling our own Prophecies
Today, I read with confusion that the rain that fell here on the Gulf Coast yesterday was black with oil and that I’m being prohibited from speaking out about the true conditions here in the Northwest corner of Florida because I’m secretly under martial law and some sort of lockdown. Really?
These words were spoken with authority by some guy who’s never stepped foot in the area I’ve lived in since 1985 and still live, work, and have the freedom to say pretty much whatever I damn well please. But he read it somewhere, or saw it in a conspiracy-theory website somewhere, and therefore it must be true. As my readers know, I have nothing positive whatsoever to say about BP or the oil spill (just search oil spill in the search box to the right). However, some of the spewing of rumors is ridiculous, baseless, and deeply upsetting to people who aren’t getting balanced coverage, no reference to FOX News intended. Some are, however, quite fascinating as conspiracy theories.
I’m not a big fan of fear-mongering, but I am a big fan of conspiracy theories. I love to write them, love to read them, love to watch them in movies. Maybe that’s because I like the kernel of truth, the plausibility, the drama and excitement of it, and yet it’s just outlandish enough that I can recognize the paranoia and know that it’s not wholly the truth. In other words, I’m not so focused on the barely disguised hope of conspiracy theories being true that I see conspiracy in every utterance of life.
Something about the human race seems to crave End of the World catastrophe and apocalypse. In my non-writing career and in my Southern Baptist the-last-days-are-upon-us childhood, I’ve heard thousands of theories, all focused gleefully on doomsday. Maybe there’s some fantasy of who might survive such a doomsday–certainly the characters in my books don’t perish and somehow manage to stop it or delay it and save the world. Maybe it’s our ultimate fantasy to get out of this world alive, even if we’re the ones fleeing the planet on a spaceship, saved by an alien race or whatever the current movie of the week delights in.
And yet, it’s disturbing to watch people focus so much on disaster that they spin themselves into nothing but disaster. The Law of Attraction would say they bring it to them…and I’ve seen that more than once–which is what scares me more than anything else.
I work with many different individuals and teams, and one group in particular makes me want to run screaming from the room every time I meet with them. They’re skilled, competent, nice people who had a few distractions early in their project, resulting in what seemed like a short run of bad luck. Yes, these things happen. Most professionals push ahead and focus on a positive outcome. Not these good folks. They got into a downward spiral of “how much worse can it get?” to “we’re cursed” to “nothing ever goes right.” On that last count, it became a reality.
The group wasn’t focused on conspiracy theories but most of my social time with them was spent listening to BP oil spill comments and watching them spin themselves into tizzies over things none of us can control. From there, it became a huge what-if list that stressed them out. These attitudes spilled over into their professional demeanor. They began cataloging daily earthquakes around the world, not quite understanding that the planet moves within and always has but now we have the technology to record tremors we never knew existed before. Then they added various catastrophes– tsunamis, hurricanes, airplane crashes. They had a whole wall of one room dedicated to disaster after disaster after disaster.
Were they a positive bunch to be around? No. Did they have the slightest belief that they would finish their project without a hitch? No. In fact, I have never seen a project have as many unforeseen glitches and disasters as theirs. In spite of their competence, they constantly spun themselves into worry and upset.
I do believe that we fulfill our own prophecies. If we look for flaws, we will find them. If we look for disaster, we’ll find that, too.
In regard to all the reporting on the Gulf oil spill, I guess I’d just like to hear and see the truth, without the spin of fantasy, and keep all my conspiracy theories and wild-eyed reports of apocalypse by non-witnesses on the screen or in books where I like them to be.