I haven't been on here in quite some time so I apologize if I missed a similar thread already (I did look for one :) ) Anyways, just to be clear I think the JW response to COVID in general has been really positive and proactive and they've done really well trying to educate people on COVID, doing Zoom meetings, etc to prevent spread within the congregations. The part that I find interesting is how compliant and non-apocalyptic the branch has been during all of this. Even as someone who's a bit of a skeptic I found myself wondering if this might be the beginning of the end between COVID, economic upheaval, and BLM. As things progressed I don't really feel this way anymore, but it certainly crossed my mind a few times when it began. In very early videos the branch did talk about the possibility of the end coming. But they haven't gone down that path since but rather have emphasized repeatedly about safety, preventing spread, complying with local authorities, etc.
I mention all of this to get to my main point/question. I find it interesting that the branch has taken so many actions to prevent being targeted as a religion during the crisis. There were certainly some other religions that ignored things in the south and still met and were widely condemned. It seems like if the GB really felt this was the beginning of the end they would ignore governments and circumstances and continue to meet as Babylon the Great turning on false religion is the beginning of the Great Tribulation. So it seems like if the circumstances presented themselves you would basically try to encourage governments turning on religions including JWs as it starts to fulfill prophecies of persecution and what not and could somewhat credibly be painted as the beginning of the events that mark the great tribulation. I think that the GB isn't responding this way is rather telling personally. I think they are way more cautious after falsely predicting the beginning of end times more than once. I also think it reveals that if the end is coming, truly no one knows when and that even the GB aren't willing to hurry things along since they obviously don't know when or if the end is coming. I guess this is also what I would say is the most prominent example of a public contradiction since we're repeatedly told that the end is coming very soon, you never know when, videos of people in basements, get your go bags ready, etc. Granted a lot of this language has been around for years, but it seems to have ticked up over the last few. But then when given the chance to really seize on an opportunity to interpret events as the end and to kind of encourage prophecy fulfillment they instead choose to be very compliant and pragmatic and generally avoid catastrophizing and talking about this being the end even though lots of members certainly feel like it could be. This is certainly the only event in my lifetime that felt like it could genuinely signal the beginning of the end yet the branch has actively not encouraged that line of thinking aside from occasional "this is preparation for the end" kind of talk.
I don't say any of the above to be overly negative (although I'm sure some on here will commence with the belly aching) I see it as more of a pragmatic validation that it's quite possible the end will never come as predicted and that really no one knows. As a skeptic I find this a little comforting because it means I can fairly confidently continue living without the fear of the end coming tomorrow hanging over my head. I've lived that way for some time now but this is probably the biggest event in my lifetime that makes me feel more confident that I can continue to pursue my professional and secular goals and take care of my family while doing the minimum in the org to keep everyone happy.