According to what many call the doomsday prophecy of 2012, the world will come to a screeching halt at midnight on December 21 of this year.
The “prophecy” comes from the fact that the ancient Mayan calendar, dating back more than 5,000 years, displays its last day on December 21, which corresponds with the winter solstice, or shortest day of the year.
What may cause some anxiety is that some interpret this as “the end of days,” as if the sun isn’t going to come up the next morning. But what isn’t common knowledge is the Mayan view time as cyclical and repeating, not linear with a beginning and end, as Westerners do. To the Mayan people, it will be a time of great celebration. Just as we celebrate the New Year every year, they hold celebrations at the end of each Baktun. A Baktun is 144,000 days. What separates this day from the last 1,871,999 is that there isn’t a fourteenth Baktun. The whole cycle starts over on what would be December 22, 2012 on the Gregorian calender.
Cataclysms are something we are fascinated by. We seem to love the idea that there will be an end and it will be tumultuous and only the good will prevail. It makes life more interesting. Religious people may think of this as a sort of spiritual cleansing, where all the sinners will be left here for trials and tribulations and the righteous will be called to Heaven.
Doomsayers believe there could be a plethora of disastrous scenarios that range from power outages to a world-wide flood akin to the story of Noah. “Preppers,” who are readying for the end-of-days are stocking up on guns and ammo and building nuclear fallout shelters 20 feet under the ground with a hidden entrance.
Some may try to tie the prophecy to what happened in Y2K. Or, actually, what did not happen. But there’s a big difference between these two events.
There actually was something to Y2K. In theory, all computers were going to reset to the year zero and since the memory is tied to the date of the files, all progress of the last century would virtually have been deleted. But thankfully, the reason we didn't have a massive computer meltdown – if not a genuine world meltdown - is that some genius thought about it in time to keep it from happening. So the "Y2K'ers" had actual tangible fears because imagine what would have happened if every computer inside every device in the world suddenly ceased to function.
Since computers are man-made, Y2K was preventable. But there is nothing we can do if something comes hurling through space and crashes into Earth, whether that be a meteor or a sun flare, or an army of invading alien space craft.
We are living on a very old planet. Geologists can’t agree on the age, but it’s around four billion, some say. Archeologists unearth fragments of the past every day which fracture the view we hold of ourselves and history as people. One only has to stay up-to-date to be humbled by these findings.
The idea of the Mayan doomsday prophecy actually has serious historical misinterpretations. It comes from a piece of art that was found a long time ago that was in one of the four surviving Mayan codices. The art shows what appears to be water coming from a reptilian creature’s mouth while two gods stand by. The person who saw it didn’t know anything about Mayan beliefs and thought since the two gods were black they must have been evil. Thing is, the gods are associated with creation, not destruction.
Other than that one painting, there is only one other mention of this time that comes up in all of the Mayan’s writings. A sculpture that mentions the end of the 13th Baktun, and goes on to say what will happen, but the corner had been broken off so our fate will forever be a mystery. Well, at least until Dec. 22.