End of the World Prediction for 2012 Will Hopefully Spark Action
Brandon Sun “Small World” Column, Monday, December 26 / 11
As many of you have already heard, the world is due to come to an end on December 21st, 2012.
This is a prediction from the Mayan calendar, of global cataclysm at the winter solstice in the coming year. It has sprung from the Mayans to television and movie blockbusters and hundreds of books and web sites about Doomsday 2012. The end of the world will be caused by a reverse in Earth’s magnetic field, or a 90-degree flip of Earth’s rotational axis, or bombardment by asteroids or comets, gamma or other lethal rays – or it may be a hoax!
There are many who debunk the 2012 myth, including NASA, the National Geographic Society and many other scientific institutions, who say it is all just another bit of hysteria from religious and other “spiritual” sources, who have been wrong many times before.
So, the good news is that there is little chance that the world will end in 2012. The bad news is that the challenges facing our planet as we enter the New Year are serious and, generally speaking, there is not an honest effort being made to understand and deal with them.
Degradation of our natural environment is the first big hurdle that humankind needs to leap.
The big stories are the melting of our glaciers, the flooding of our low-lying lands and the frequency of major storms that have devastated people and property from the US Southeast and mid-West to the Philippines, the Caribbean and Europe.
The backstories are the open-pit mines and oil/gas operations, the destruction of forests and the mono-cropping and chemicalization of agriculture that have affected the environment as well as people’s land ownership, cultures and human rights in many regions.
The next challenge is civil and international conflict that kills tens of thousands of people without us really noticing.
The big stories are the people’s movements in the Middle East, fighting against dictators, and Western troops battling in the War on Terror.
Behind the scenes, 4,500 US troops have died and 30,000 have been injured fighting that War in Afghanistan over the past nine years.
As well, Western nations fear to confront certain regimes for fear of losing oil supplies or political alliances. The cellphones we use, the jewels we wear and the chocolate we eat have become sources of revenue for killing forces throughout the Third World.
Our global economy is the next factor in our own slower end to the world as we know it. The story we get on the news is about high-rolling financiers – the International Monetary Fund (run by the world’s economic elite) – standing up for viable economies by getting rid of waste and sloth. The backstory is about the rich cutting programs for the poor, wages for workers and taxes for the rest.
The Occupy Movement are dirty hippies who need to get a job while those with financial clout have taken charge to set things right. No doubt, they have taken charge, but we need a more balanced view of world finances – the winners and losers – so that we as citizens and voters can better understand the situation.
And, speaking of governance, we live in a world where young people feel disconnected from the political process and many older people feel cynical after their participation in the process has not yielded better results. While less than 50% of voters are casting ballots in federal and provincial elections, a recent Winnipeg City Council bi-election attracted only 20% of the eligible electorate. Use of food banks in Canada, meanwhile, has gone up 25% since our recession began, with almost a million people accessing their services in recent years. Voter numbers down – food bank users up – apples and oranges?
But, there is always hope. The issues we face as humanity are urgent but maybe they will spur our leaders to action (or maybe we will).
So far, the tendency is to focus on the big story, while the backstory may be where the work needs to be done.
Scholars say that the Maya were not clear that the world would end in 2012.
The Dresden Codex, an attempt to decipher the prediction, says that the Maya should not be taken literally, but rather as a lesson about human behaviour.
At the close of an era, just as at the close of a year, when people make those fateful New Year’s Resolutions, the Codex says, humanity will take stock and resolve to begin living better.
The Mayan prediction is actually a warning and an exhortation for us to see the urgency in the issues facing our world and take action to address them, to everyone’s benefit.
Zack Gross works for the Manitoba Council for International Co-operation (MCIC), a coalition of more than 40 international development organizations.
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