2012 and The End of the World

The latest date that doomsayers have picked for the end of the world is December 21, 2012 (Sam’s 29th if I’m not mistaken).  The reason for this is that it is supposedly the end of the Mayan calendar, which I guess was created at some point and just ends in the year 2012. New Age types feel that this will bring about profound metaphysical changes: The one I’ve heard most often is that it will be the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius” and with that, there will be the arrival of the new avatar for the new age (Jesus was the last avatar for the last age, Pisces. Get it? Jesus, the fisher of men?  The fish symbol?) I’ve heard from some that the new avatar will most likely be female, which kind of makes sense to me since water is a feminine element and Aquarius is the “water-bearer,” not unlike a woman’s womb. Anyway, with this hypothesis, the only changes we would see would be a shift in consciousness (that we’re already kind of seeing) – we might get back in touch with the Earth, or find a balance between masculine and feminine energies, re-awaken our mystical properties, or something all Indigo like that. These are all changes I’m down with, but then of course there are other hypotheses.

The one I heard most recently is that 2012 will mark the end of the world because there will be a geomagnetic pole reversal (basically our compasses would point to what we currently perceive as “South.” Geomagnetic pole reversals are documented events and should not be confused with polar shifts, which scientists say are unlikely to happen). This reversal would supposedly interfere with anything that requires electricity and might result in a complete crash of technology as we know it (another interesting effect might be exposure to more radiation from the sun as the electromagnetic field diminishes – some scientists say that the field has to become weaker before it can make the switch – global warming, anyone?). This hypothesis puts me in a grim mood.

It’s not that I’m particularly worried about a life without technology. I like to think that I am a smart, adaptable and resilient person and I so don’t really doubt my ability to re-learn how to do certain tasks (like instead of blogging from my wireless Internet connection, I might have to write my posts out by hand and put them on bulletin boards or in newsletters). The loss of technology would be inconvenient, but not insurmountable. The thing I do worry about, though, is the ensuing chaos when the lights go out. I’m worried that people would panic a bit, because, as Tommy Lee Jones says to Will Smith, “A person is smart, but people are stupid.” And when our lives as we know them are suddenly over, and even simple tasks like paying for groceries at the grocery store become impossible, people might start doing things like stealing. And when the grocery stores are tapped out, they might start stealing from their neighbors. And if food becomes scarce and stealing becomes a matter of survival, I’m not sure I have it in me to shoot someone over granola bars. I’m not even sure I have it in me to buy, or even learn how to use, a gun.

2012 has been freaking me out more than most other doomsday prophecies and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think the reason I didn’t believe in other prophecies is because they involved God destroying the world and my God is a just and loving God and I just don’t think she would obliterate creation just because it didn’t work out the way she’d hoped (besides, there was that whole promise with Noah and the rainbow and everything). But I do believe in the ancient wisdom of ancient cultures (like the Maya) and seafloor spreading was one of the things I took away with me from my Marine Biology class. So 2012 seems more likely to me, even if it probably isn’t. And because it seems more likely to me, I worry about my survival in a more real and tangible way. It’s not that I’m afraid of the act of dying – I’m not worried about where I’m going or if I’m coming back, or even if it will hurt or be scary. I just think it would be awfully inconvenient. Most times when I have a worry, I try to imagine what would happen if that worry were to pass. And then I think about what I would do. And every time, I find that I can at least cope with my worst case scenario. But how do you cope with your own death? There’s just no way for me to “work something else out,” which is frustrating and annoying because I’ve already worked out a pretty nice life for myself post-technology.

It’s strange…I believe that people are basically good, that we do not require society to tell us how to live well and right. And yet, I worry about what people would do at the end of the world. It makes me wonder if I truly believe that human nature is essentially light, and if I don’t, when and why that changed, especially since lately I’ve felt that there has been so much to hope for and so much good to believe in.

Perhaps in this one instance, I will have to make an exception to the way I mentally prepare myself for disappointment, since it does me no good to imagine a world in which I am no longer alive: Instead of figuring out how to deal with the worst case scenario, I will just have to believe in the best.

*Oh, and before you all stage an intervention – the New Yorker published an article, ““The Dystopians,” so my paranoia is totally legit.

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