Over a year ago, I heard a friend who is a conspiracy theorist talk about the “apocalypse” that was coming.  I sort of agreed; it was a few months before the election and there was just something in the air.   Something was off.  The virus was a scary unknown. Folks were angry and frightened.  Friends were lost because of political leaning.  That sense of impending doom was palpable.

The apocalypse arrived in the form of a virus.  But it turns out it wasn’t the virus that was the problem, it was we humans.

Catastrophe again tiptoed in on January 6.  What had been simmering below the surface, amplified by a global pandemic, was playing out right on our televisions.  It tiptoed in, stayed for a few weeks, and then the heat turned back to “simmer,” seeping into relationships, families, and conversations at a low boil.

But the sense of impending doom remains.  Not only is the virus still with us, maniacally laughing at intelligent humans who can’t get out of our own way, but the political divide is deeper, wider and the election of 2024 is staring us in the face.

Things aren’t going back to normal any time soon.  Travel is open, but different.  Five hours on an airplane in a mask changes the whole experience.  Restaurants are open, but different.  Walking into a restaurant with 50% of the tables unfilled, then being told there is a 45-minute wait is just bizarre.  Two years ago, grocery store shelves were always full.  I haven’t been able to get my favorite cereal since June because of the “supply chain,” and there are typically large vacant spaces on the shelves.  Any product with a chip has been delayed in delivery, as the components are just not available.

This isn’t what I expected in an apocalypse, but it probably makes more sense than the movie version.

Watching the Avengers, we come to believe that an apocalypse is an overwhelming devastation that happens all at once.  Things are destroyed, lives are lost, but somehow the good guys overtake the bad guys, and some form of new life reemerges.

What we got instead is death by 1,000 cuts.  It is slow.  It isn’t the cataclysm that we anticipated with the sense of impending doom. 

It is the convoluted disruption of our children’s education.  It is the loss of life that didn’t have to happen.  It is people following an ideology without questioning.  It is armchair quarterbacks second-guessing every single decision without knowing the supporting facts.  It is the overwhelming lack of trust of anyone in any semblance of authority. It is sick people shooting others in the name of “something or someone.”  It is people I thought I knew making statements I never thought I’d hear from them.

None of these alone is apocalyptic.  Together, they very well may spell our doom.

In the Avengers, the good guys are a little flawed, but overall, they want to do the right thing to keep the world moving.  The bad guys are explicit in their intent to take over the world and make it their own.

The apocalyptic event spawned by the bad guy happens in a big, ugly battle with the good guys, with cars flung everywhere, hammers and spears flung in plain sight, bombs bursting out the windows of buildings, general havoc as far as the eye can see.  Only the good guys can stop it.

For us today, Thanos won’t be quite so recognizable.  And Captain America and Iron Man aren’t coming.

But we have something that the Marvel world doesn’t have.  We have us.  The answer to our apocalypse is within ourselves.  We can stop this.  We can say “enough.”

There is nothing going on today that can’t right itself with time and conversation. 

We can get the kids back to school.  We don’t have to lose any more lives to the virus.  We can question the ideology of others. We can look beyond the sound bites to understand and respect the complexities of the world we are living in. 

We can come together to rein in the violence, rather than perpetuating it through our vitriol.

We can avoid this death by 1,000 cuts.

Will we?  And if not, shame on us.

As Pogo says, “We have met the enemy, and it is us”

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Carol Anderson
Carol Andersonhttp://andersonperformancepartners.com
CAROL is the founder and Principal of Anderson Performance Partners, LLC, a business consultancy focused on bringing together organizational leaders to unite all aspects of the business – CEO, CFO, HR – to build, implement and evaluate a workforce alignment strategy. With over 35 years of executive leadership, she brings a unique lens and proven methodologies to help CEOs demand performance from HR and to develop the capability of HR to deliver business results by aligning the workforce to the strategy. She is the author of Leading an HR Transformation, published by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2018, which provides a practical RoadMap for human resource professionals to lead the process of aligning the workforce to the business strategy, and deliver results, and writes regularly for several business publications.


  1. When Pandora closed the box again, only hope was still there. Carol, I read into your words that hope in the common sense of the common people who eventually see through the misinformation that an explicit desire to split this nation has fed them. It will be painful because changing out minds about anything always comes with feeling a bit sheepish and we hate it.

    Yesterday, I read that more and more groups were offering help lines to people with anger management issues. Today, another paper wrote about help for teenagers suffering from depression or anxiety. Yes, it is sad that so many people are angry and anxious, but when people come together to help each other through “their darkest hour”, hope gets restored. Puncturing the lie that people don’t want to reach out for help is a good first step for solving problems.

    Perhaps if they feel heard, they will stop listening to “the anger channel” within and without and pass on the hope to their neighbor.

    • Thank you, Charlotte, for your comment. I find myself backing away from BC360 for the very reason that I don’t feel heard, and all I seem to do is get into an argument. I have this sense that we are in some weird matrix right now with everyone wanting the same thing, but not wanting to budge from their own belief system or values. When I’m told that it’s all about values, and I question exactly what those values are, they generally are aligned with mine. So what’s the problem? I don’t know but it is a very uneasy feeling for me.

  2. Carol, the question that comes to mind when I read your last few sentences —

    “We can look beyond the sound bites to understand and respect the complexities of the world we are living in. We can come together to rein in the violence, rather than perpetuating it through our vitriol. We can avoid this death by 1,000 cuts.”

    — is “Do we agree that we’re all trying to reach the same point on the horizon?” If the last five years has taught us anything it’s that we don’t. A significant and powerful minority doesn’t really believe in democracy, and frankly doesn’t really want a democracy. They would be quite happy with an autocracy or plutocracy.

    That strain has always simmered beneath our surface and at times, the lava spews forth. “45” unleashed it, but it’s always been there. On September 17, 1787, delegates left the Constitutional Convention in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. As they exited, Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government do we have? “A Republic,” he replied, “if you can keep it.”

    Our legislators can’t even agree on whether or not to fix our roads, communication systems, the electrical grid, combat climate change and so on much less protect the health and welfare of all. Now we have state legislatures writing legislation that makes it more challenging to vote and telling schools that they needn’t teach certain subjects and can’t teach others — our modern day book burning.

    We have government officials telling us that January 6 was just “tourism” rather than the attempt to overthrow a legitimate election.

    We have millions of citizens who are so easily duped to believe the misinformation and disinformation about the COVID vaccine and that their personal freedom is more important than the collective health of all.

    The mid-terms will be very telling. 2024 more so. Buckle up.

    • Hi Jeff, I have long ago given up hope that we can find any common ground. I said I was going to leave this whole thing alone, but that Avengers metaphor just kept calling to me, reminding me that we are in the middle of a very slow catastrophe. I want to say, “Oh just hurry up and happen already,” but then I realize that my better option is to make the best use of the time in front of us.

      As always, thanks for your comment.