With Dec. 21 rapidly approaching, panic and terror are escalating worldwide. Armageddon, Judgment Day, the Rapture … despite what you call it, it’s sure to mean one thing a colossal increase in canned food sales.
In 2006, the release of Daniel Pinchbeck’s book, “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl,” further propelled the widespread belief of a Mayan calendar-based apocalypse of catastrophic proportions. Since then, countless pseudoscientific doomsday books and disaster flicks have emerged, pumping superstitious fear into our skittish species’ consciousness. Luckily, thanks to scientists and scholars with a real understanding of Mayan culture, we have no reason to believe in such nonsense.
The Mesoamerican, or Mayan, Long Count calendar distinguished a day when they believed the world was created. (which in our Gregorian calendar is Aug. 11, 3114 B.C.). The calendar is divided into baktuns, each equivalent to about 400 years. The general consensus, according to Mayan legend, is that upon the end of the 13 baktun, the world as we know it will come to an end. This year’s winter solstice—Dec. 21, 2012—is that day.
In reality, the Mayan Long Count calendar stretches out indefinitely into the future. Experts agree that the calendar merely marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. This apocalyptic mentality was actually derived from the Judeo-Christian worldview—the Mayan people themselves never even believed in such a notion. Mayan cosmology did not contain the linear model of time that we incor- porate in modern Western society. Rather than beginnings and ends, they simply had cycles.
“The Mayan calendar is going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future,” David Stuart, an archaeologist at the University of Texas at Austin who worked on deciphering Mayan glyphs discovered inside the Guatemalan rainforest, said “Numbers we can’t even wrap our heads around.”
But even more important is to ask yourself, “What did the Mayans know about the future that we don’t?” Maybe the Mayans did have the ability to accurately predict man- kind’s fate but if so, shouldn’t they have foreseen their own demise? If fortune tellers have psychic abilities, why don’t we see them winning the lottery every year? You’d think that if these occult powers were actually real, we’d have crystalgazers run- ning the U.S country by now. Given the civilization’s decline and eventual collapse, the Mayans surely had no way of knowing what lay ahead in life other than through mere speculation.
Fortunately, the 2012 apocalypse is an outrageous claim that should not be taken seriously. However, it doesn’t mean you can breathe easy now – the four horsemen of the apocalypse haven’t dismounted quite yet. There are still plenty of other existential threats just around the corner for the human race and it will only take one of them to see us through. Things to be on the look- out for include nuclear annihilation, overpopulation, global warming, oil depletion, human infertility, the death of the sun, alien invasion, global pandemic, artificial intelligence uprising, ice age, bioterrorism, planetary collision and Milli Vanilli, just to name a few. Some might say that our odds don’t look too promising.
To conclude my sardonic commentary, rather than squandering our attention on irrational revelations which lack proof, mankind should focus on rectifying the real issues that threaten the world. Even if the climax of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar isn’t a cataclysmic end of days, there are still numerous risks to our livelihood that loom in the imminent future. So, make sure to get yourself a nice, sturdy can opener, some iodine tablets and a warm pair of long johns, because winter is on its way.