Hu glanced up at the large score-board above the main stand. The digital clock ticked off the seconds. Two minutes remained. Hu would hear the referee’s final whistle go in the next couple of minutes. Hu looked back at Col.
Col was eyeing up the goal-posts, imagining the flight of the ball in his mind.
Above the main stand, the score-board blazed its message. Hu’s team was trailing by thirty points.
“We’ve lost mate,” Hu heard his team-mate standing beside him say. “No way back from this one.”
Hu turned back and watched Col begin his run-up. From Hu’s perspective the kick looked good. Sure enough, the ball sailed cleanly through the uprights.
“Thirty-three points down,” Hu muttered. He caught the ball thrown to him by the ball-boy and jogged back towards the half-way line.
Hu Manitee was the captain of his team. Just before he kicked off to resume play he called to his team-mates. “C’mon guys. Keep pressing.” He kicked the ball, and his team-mates sprinted past him following the flight of the ball. Hu followed up.
A maul formed. The ball came out on the opposing team’s side. Hu saw the ball pass quickly along the back-line until it got to the winger, Col Lapps, the captain of the opposing team.
Hu wasn’t fooled by Col’s feint and tackled him firmly around the legs. The tackle was so strong and vigorous that Col lost hold of the ball and it bounced into touch.
The final whistle blew.
The write-up in the sports section of the local newspaper the next day praised Hu’s team in defeat. “They played to the whistle,” the reporter wrote. “Although they suffered their heaviest loss of the season, Hu Manitee and his team-mates impressed with their enthusiasm, fair-play, and team support.”
Hu’s willingness to continue playing the game, even though knowing his team is going to lose, is an allegory for the manner in which humanity could approach Existential Collapse.
Existential collapse is no longer a question of If? but When? That (western) society as we know it will collapse is a given. We just do not know when the final whistle will blow.
Hu and his team exhibit some healthy examples of how to approach inevitable defeat (collapse):
1. Remain buoyant. Do not let despair take hold.
2. Focus on the game (life.) Life remains meaningful.
3. Support your team-mates. Do not allow difference to descend into blaming or name-calling.
4. Tackle well and hard. Resist those behaviours and practices that intensify or hasten collapse.
5. Follow the ball. Set goals, even small ones; and even if those goals may not be achieved or fulfilled.
6. Stay on the field. Don’t give up and walk off. Someone (human or other-than-human) wants and enjoys your presence.
7. Be real. Don’t pretend the score is other than it is. Don’t stop your team-mates from checking the score-board.
8. Smile. There is no point in putting on a sad or angry face.
9. Remember the spectators. Many species rely upon humans playing the game in a healthy way with integrity. Don’t think that just because human extinction is highly probable that we can lapse into a laissez-faire, couldn’t-care-less, approach to the world. Some species may survive collapse.