By Richard A. Joyce
Redstone Review VP
PUEBLO – Greetings, fellow travelers on spaceship Earth, that marvelous blue ball on which we each and all live for a time as it runs round and round in circles within circles.
Well, that just sounds stupid. Let me try again. Jovial January, everyone! Worse.
This is ridiculous. Look, all I want to do is wish you all a “Happy New Year” – but I can’t. The most I could do is wish you all a “Happy 11 Months” – after that, who knows? No, I’m not talking about the results of the presidential election, though that could make more than a few folks in this country want to jump off the nearest bridge.
I’m talking about the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012, according to the ancient Mayan calendar, which comes to a screeching halt on that date. The Mayans. Hah! What did they know? Apparently, a lot, though they also could be quite violent and brutal.
According to information from various historians and anthropologists, the ancient Maya lived in the rain forests of Mexico and Central-America, and theirs was the most developed culture among all those in the ancient Americas. The hieroglyphic writings they left on their fortresses show that they were quite war-oriented and brutal in that endeavor, but their art, astronomy, number system, books and calendars showed their high intelligence, too.
For example, using those hieroglyphs, which were very complex and context-dependent, they recorded their lives and the history of their kings and civilization on both stone and paper. Their astronomical calculations were accurate and precise, though they had no telescopes, and their art, which depicted various aspects of life in those times, was large, colorful and sophisticated.
A system of city-state governments eventually evolved into a federal-state system of government and a caste system of rulers, warriors, aristocrats, priests, farmers, artisans and slaves. Most of the rulers over time were men, but several women also came to power.
Their calendars were books full of astrological information, but that was based on exact astronomy. They knew the solar systems and galaxy were cyclic, and they predicted both lunar and solar eclipses.
They also projected their calendar thousands of years into the future, and they divided time into 5,000-plus year cycles, with a new one beginning as the old one ended – until the end of this cycle.
The current Mayan calendar cycle ends on Dec. 21, 2012. They did not project the beginning of another cycle beyond that date, not did they record among the hieroglyphs found and deciphered up to now any reason for not beginning a new cycle on Dec. 22.
So, we’re not talking about the biblical rapture here, wherein the truly faithful one day vanish from the planet, leaving the rest of us behind to suffer through the tribulations that will then ensue.
We’re talking the end of time for all people, if not for all things and the Earth, itself. There’s been a lot of speculation about this projected calendar event and what it may portend, but for the most part, scientists and people in general publicly put no faith or energy into the utter-end-of-the-world thesis.
Privately, however, I have no doubt that most of them still fear that possibility at some level of consciousness. To them I would say, “Have no fear, folks. As a close Borg friend once told me, ‘Resistance is futile.’ So is fear.”
If you don’t wake up on Dec. 22, 2012, you’ll either never know it, in which case nothing between now and then will matter in terms of time spent in fear. Or you’ll be in some other state of existence – which, I admit, may be bad, depending on your religious beliefs and status under them at the time, but which also may be very good. I choose to believe the interpretation of utter destruction.
I choose to believe the Maya knew from their observations and calculations of some black body or hole that hurtles through the universe in a gigantic ellipse and at a speed approaching that of light. This thing’s physical dimensions are extremely small, but its mass is sufficient to obliterate anything it hits at such velocity.
I choose to believe its orbit will bring it crashing straight on into the North Pole at precisely one second after midnight on Dec. 21 (at the International Dateline, of course). Prior to that moment, its size and speed will make it virtually undetectable by Earth observers as well as satellites. I choose to believe that in an instant, the Earth will be vaporized by the collision.
Why would I choose such beliefs, when clearly the odds of that scenario playing out are astronomically negative? I choose these beliefs because it makes my New Year’s resolution one of promise. If we all know we have only 11 months of earthly existence left, let us resolve to live them without fear and its companions, lawless abandon and indulgence, but rather with courage and love and appreciation for every living thing, including each other, on this planet.
To borrow a wonderful pronouncement from The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment author Thaddeus Golas, “Love as much as you can from wherever you are.”
If we make that our end-of-the-world-year resolution, and if we keep it, we will sail through space on the way to meet our destiny with the dignity of the immortals we all openly proclaim or secretly hope we are.
And if we all awake unscathed on Dec. 22, well, we will not have been fools at all. Instead we will have recreated our world in a new image, one that will make many more years of physical existence worthwhile.
Richard A. Joyce is an associate professor in the mass communications department at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He is an award-winning journalist who served as managing editor, and subsequently editor and general manager of the Cañon City Daily Record from 1988 to 1994. The opinions he expresses in this column are strictly his own, and do not represent in any way the views of anyone else at the Redstone Review or at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to Top