I think everyone’s been asked one of the following hypotheticals — or something else like them:
What would do if it were the last day on Earth?
If you only had an hour left before the world ended, what would you do?
The trouble with all of those hypotheticals is that they require for us to definitively know the world is ending. For human beings all basically to accept and agree on it — and disseminate that information properly.
Those hypotheticals don’t account for the inevitable real life murkiness. The infighting. The interpersonal disagreements about messaging. Bias attacking bias. Everyone concerned about ancillary measures.
These hypotheticals don’t account for people who are willing to push the world to its brink, all the while lulling its residents into complacency — hoping they can squeeze the last drop of wealth out of the world and its population. Only to realize that they made a vital error in their math and now it’s too late.
That person, the person discovering the error, might know it’s too late. That it’s all going to end. But they might not want to tell other people. Instead, they might guard that secret jealously, not wanting the panic and mayhem to interfere with their last hours or days of life plans. They might find a way to justify this to themselves, make it feel ethical. Why make other people suffer? They might tell themselves. It’s not the end but the dread of the end that’s agony. No, it’s more humane to be the only person who knows, they might tell themselves, as they engage in whatever their ideal end of the world, last gasp at living activities are.
Or maybe the person who notices the math error will want to tell others. But no one will listen to them. No one will want to accept the truth that’s plainly evident. No one will want to stop nursing hope.
Look. There’s a lot that can happen here.
So while these kinds of questions will probably serve as icebreakers until the end of time (announced or not), there’s so much in the way of them actually coming to fruition.
The truth is that for most of us, we don’t know how it ends, let alone how. There’s too much in the way to see it clearly. And too much of what makes us human makes it harder to know.