May 21: Judgment Day or judgment of the day

Gisela Lagos

If you drive west on the I-8 as you near the ocean you’ll see a large billboard that proclaims that “Judgment Day” is on May 21,   it goes on to say that the date is guaranteed by the Bible.

Keith Harwood takes the credit for working out the exact “end of times” date and on his radio station he tells his listeners exactly how he came up with the “correct and accurate” date.

He and his followers are on a mission to share their beliefs with anyone who will listen.  The believers are traveling from state to state and attended countless functions to give out flyers, promoting the radio station and ultimately “save” the non-believers.

Religion fills many needs for many people and for some the idea of a life beyond gives them hope and happiness.  For this group of people, May 21 represents an amazing day of piece and an end to the turmoil they see in this world.  The very idea of a Judgment Day is an escape from one’s own mortality and gives some relief from inevitable death.

Yet this is not the first prophesized end day, in the annals of time we find several dates where people believed God would return.

One particular prediction was on Oct 22, 1844 where a group of people, who later became the Seventh Day Adventist Christian Church, held to a belief that lead them out of their homes and into the fields to await the second coming.

In Seventh Day Adventist circles they speak of Oct 22, 1844 as “The Great Disappointment”, because it became just that to the many people who believed in the prophecy.

The joy and jubilation from the days prior quickly turned into depression and embarrassment as each person eventually returned to their homes, their jobs, and their lives.  The ridicule they must have faced once they’d returned to the towns would have been difficult to bear.

On May 21 the people who believe in “Judgment Day” will face their own great disappointment and probably be left feeling dejected.  The Christian God having not returned, they may find it difficult to face friends and family.

Another “Great Disappointment” is on the horizon and we are all left with an important choice. How do we treat and act towards the people who proclaimed the coming Judgment Day?

We are left with the choice of ridiculing the believers or to show them compassion.  Instead of putting down the people who believe in the May 21 judgment date we could take a more caring stance and welcome them back.  Back to their jobs, back to the coffee shops, back to the family gatherings and back to the friendships.  Because whatever jokes or silly comments we, the non-believers, can dish out it will be nothing compared to the agony they will be feeling.

A belief system based around a date that cannot be historically or biblically proved is an act of pure faith, and on the day their God does not fly them away that faith will be rocked.

While May 21 will probably not bring about the rapture or a judgment day, I think it can bring about a new era of understanding, kindness, and love.  It can be a time where we can put aside the differences in opinions and embrace the disheartened or disappointed.

Perhaps that will be the truth of May 21, not that the world ended, but that the people in this world ended the detrimental judgment of each other, if even for a single day.