I am a little obsessed with the interpretations of the Mayan prophecies which are taken to predict the end of the world in December 2012. Its not the sort of obsession that has driven me to research the myths and distill the facts. Oh no, its more of the background and uninformed fear of impending doom that really tends to brighten my days when I think about it.
I was more than a little relieved to read a couple articles this morning indicating that fears of the world’s end are unjustified and their only function is to add to your misery and distract you from the joys of living. The first article I read on National Geographic is titled “A Maya Doomsday Prophecy“. The article begins with the following:
It has long been debated whether a Maya glyph found in the Mexican state of Tabasco refers to an apocalypse that will arrive in 2012, and now the Mexican Institute of Archaeology has acknowledged that there may be a second reference to the date on a brick discovered years ago at the Comalcalco ruin, according to a MSNBC report. Some believe the reference is to a date in December 2012, although the Institute and many archaeologists say the conclusion is due to a Westernized misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar.
I linked to another post on the National Geographic site titled “2012: Six End-of-the-World Myths Debunked” which debunks a number of myths that purport to substantiate fears of our demise at the end of next year. Some of these myths were somewhat worse than the fictions my mind accepted as truth but I am glad those have been addressed. It was a little sobering to read that there are people out there who are not just mildly neurotic but who have seriously considered killing themselves and their families rather than endure the end of the world:
NASA’s Ask an Astrobiologist Web site, for example, has received thousands of questions regarding the 2012 doomsday predictions—some of them disturbing, according to David Morrison, senior scientist with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
“A lot of [the submitters] are people who are genuinely frightened,” Morrison said.
“I’ve had two teenagers who were considering killing themselves, because they didn’t want to be around when the world ends,” he said. “Two women in the last two weeks said they were contemplating killing their children and themselves so they wouldn’t have to suffer through the end of the world.”
End of the world movies may be great for profits but they also seem to reinforce our fears a little too much. Of course, these grand events get a lot of attention but we easily forget the many ways we could lose our lives each day. Perhaps the lesson here is not to get caught up in the predictions and threats to our lives but to enjoy the lives we do have and make the most of them.
Image credit: Mayan Hieroglyphs by Paul Huber, licensed CC BY NC ND 2.0