DATELINE AUSTRALIA – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – TSUNAMI HITS SYDNEY
Yesterday, September 20th 2018 at 9pm, a tsunami wreaked havoc along the NSW coast from Newcastle in the north to Nowra in the south. Huge regions of Sydney where devastated including the seaside suburbs of Cronulla, Bondi and Manly. The Tsunami surge also wiped out inner harbour suburbs such as Balmain and Kirribilli, destroyed the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the airport and flooded the central business district. Waves reached as far inland as Parramatta.
More destruction followed immediately after with an earthquake destroying more suburbs such as Newtown. It is estimated that the loss of life numbers around 400,000 with the government imposing a state of Martial Law.
Missed this news? Didn’t notice the destruction last night? Not surprising as, once again, dire predictions of doom failed to evaluate.
The above disaster comes from a flyer placed in many letter boxes in Sydney in the months leading up to yesterday, the 20th of September. Not only that, a lone figure of a man, compete with microphone and amplifier, was seen around the Sydney Town Hall on several occasions loudly proclaiming this prediction. Behind him stood a banner that read, “WARNING!! Tsunami to hit Sydney 20th September 2018 – Impact at 9pm – 400,000 lives lost – Everyone that calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Jesus is Lord”. His warnings were punctuated with calls to be saved in the name of Jesus, songs of praise and ramblings about heaven, hell and unbelievers.
While it would be easy to dismiss the self-proclaimed prophet as a “nutcase” or “lunatic”, clearly, to go to so much trouble, he was and maybe still is sincere in his opinion that Sydney was in peril for whatever reason. And his sincerity and message can have far-reaching and serious implications for some members of his audience.
While the vast majority of people who received the flyer or saw this man in the street would either ignore him and the message, or make the odd joke about buying a boat just in case, for some people a message of impending doom is no laughing matter.
“Thanatophobia” is the irrational fear of dying, often associated with concern about the apocalypse. This fear can overwhelm people who may be suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders, and it can be exacerbated by news, social media, and religious prophecies. Stress is often brought on by a feeling of being out of control, with people attempting to take back a small amount of control by doing whatever they can to prepare for what they feel is impending doom.
The “Prepper” or “survivalist” movement started in the USA and has made its way to Australia, with apparently hundreds of doomsday preppers across the country making preparations for the coming apocalypse. This could be argued as being harmless, but people suffering from anxiety are at increased risk of manifesting their fears by resorting to dangerous activities such as financial self-sabotage, social isolation, alcohol and substance abuse, and self-harm. Doomsday phobias can even lead to suicidal ideation and in extreme cases, sufferers may take the only control they feel they have, and end their own lives.
Various doomsday cults have taken advantage of vulnerable people and convinced them to sell their possessions, so they can “donate” money to cult leaders. This predatory behaviour is abhorrent, and while we are not suggesting this latest “prophecy” is doing that, they are certainly not helping.
Australia has had its share of predictions of doom ranging from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in 1927 (Christ was going descend from the clouds between the heads of Sydney harbour) to the Family Radio billboards on Parramatta Rd in 2011 warning of impending disaster in May of that year. The one thing all these predictions, too many to number, have in common is their 100% failure rate.
While we may pity the lone prophet, we should also be aware that there are many people who, often in secret, will take the doomsday message to heart, and adversely affect their lives and the lives of those around them in so doing.
As tempting as it is, doomsday is no laughing matter.