Here’s the thing: the Mayan calendar was not counting down to the end of the world- They didn’t have a concept that included the world ending. Think about this for a moment: an entire civilization that had no recurring fears of impending doom. No cause to believe things as we know it were going to just stop one day. And look at what they achieved in their time: massive temples without metal tools or wheeled carts or pulleys; multicolored paints (there was a time brown, and browner-er were your only choices); even fabric looms – that’s right: no simple loin clothes for these kooky cats. Hell, they were the first to employ vulcanization. No, not the logical sci-fi hominids of pointy-eared and eyebrow fame. They would combine elements from the rubber tree with cloth, glue, paper - even their toys - all in an effort to make a stronger, longer lasting product. They were also geniuses at math, given that they had no previous exposure to Eurasian mathematics.
Which feeds back into their calendar. Now, while they had no concept for the world ending in its entirety, they did believe that all good things must come to an end, so that more new things can begin. The found this in the world around them: seasons, life, the cycles of the moon. They found it such a good thing that there religion and deities mirrored this observation in natural life. This led to their carvings, and eventually to their chronicling of the various ages.
See, that’s why their set calendars ended – it wasn’t ever meant to be the end of the world, just the end of one cycle. One age ends, and another begins. I mean, fuck all, people: you believed there was a Third Age when Tolkien wrote about it. There had to be previous ages leading up this. The world didn’t end when it did. Well, sort of. I mean, we haven’t seen any orcs or uruk-hai that I’m aware of – although, Honey Boo Boo and Snookie could be their second coming. Who knows, maybe this new age will be their return, and Tolkien was the herald. Could just as easily say the era of terran man is coming to an end. Or the beginning of world where Harry Potter-esque fantasy and magic are real.
See, they kept their shit straight, and always in perspective: life will go on. It will get better, too, if contributed to.
Now, in all fairness, while they charted a comfortable number to plan an oncoming era, they were not geniuses of prognostication. I think if they were, they’d still be around. Better yet, they’d know to never trust a travelling blanket salesman who isn’t charging for his wares.
Here we are now, though, among the height of our post-Roman civilization. Within perspective, we have the same percentage of civil unrest globally. The same to be said of our political structure, economy, even our social welfare is an eerie carbon-copy of the late, great thriving empire. Yet, in what seems to be a yearly occurrence, we are bombarded with doomsdays and apocalyptic warnings. When that empire fell, the world didn’t end. They didn’t fall into the sea. They just fizzled out – poof! – gone in under two hundred years. No clean breaking point where one can say, “This is the exact day that the Roman era ended.”
And that feeds back to all good things coming to an end, to make way for more good things. But how does this constant doubt and fear get introduced into our culture? The easy scapegoat is religion, but let’s be honest – the only ones responsible for thinking and behaving however we choose to, is ourselves. To blame a religious body (whether in text or as a congregation) that simply provides the information is like blaming the fork for putting food in our mouths.
For a moment, folks need to step back. What is it that makes you so afraid to live that you have to hang your hat on global catastrophe just to get out of bed every morning? I mean, hell – there used to be plenty of days I’d wish someone’s car tire would explode while they would breeze by me on the median at 87 miles an hour, in heavy traffic, while everyone else was barely pushing 30 - but that’s just me being an asshole. Of course, in this fantasy their car would hit mine. I’d be fine, but their corpse would have been mangled in a side railing or something. Oh, and because of the trauma I couldn’t go into work. For, like, a week or something.
Fuck you if you haven’t ever wished something terrible would happen so you wouldn’t have to do something just once in your life. If you’ve never been there, you’re fortunate. It’s a hard place that you don’t realize for what it is until you’re looking back, rationally and mortified.
And that’s just what this is. A bunch of people, afraid to make their lives mean something, clinging to the “fact” that the world is going to end in their lifetime. Apocalypses become the new excuses, along with a flimsy validation for becoming an armchair politico on how to fix everything that’s wrong with the world, and, in the end, their solution is to bugger it all – it’s just going to end next year. Or the year after that. Or maybe five years from then – and so on. They quiver, afraid death will take their last, great dream from them, but they’ve done nothing to achieve that dream, save spread their fear and ignorance as fact and faith.
I have no further words on this cowardice, save this: If you are afraid to be alive, you have not right to be afraid of death.