Letter From the Editor

| January 05, 2012
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As I write this, we have 353 days left before the Mayan Apocalypto upsets the Earth's apple cart on December 21, 2012. That's when the 5,000-year-old Mayan calendar ends, and if you pay any attention to popular culture, you have no doubt read or heard that it will mark the "end of the world," or at the least a "cosmic change in consciousness."

Modern scientists assure us that no such thing will happen, though they do point out that on that date for the first time in 26,000 years the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way. What does that mean? Probably nothing.

Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Florida, says, "For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle." However, she adds, to call December 21st a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting is "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in." (Have I mentioned the Flyer's first — and last — "end of the world" advertising special section for the December 15th issue?) I kid. I think.

But what if we knew we really only had 353 days left on this planet? How would it alter human behavior? I believe it would bring about a change of consciousness. There'd be no reason to keep chasing the dollar or trying to build up your 401(k). No reason not to use your savings to travel the globe, to take that trip to Machu Picchu or the Taj Mahal or Mount Kilimanjaro. Cash would flow freely. The recession would end. Taverns would flourish.

There'd be no reason for politicians to trash each other or grasp for PAC money, no reason for them not to act like statesmen instead of self-interested weasels. No reason for billionaires not to dispense some of their vast wealth to make life easier for the disadvantaged. No reason for racism, since we'd all be on the same boat to oblivion. Families would become closer, old feuds would be forgotten. Troops would come home. Church membership would swell, and congregations would focus on spirituality rather than politics. Heck, the Cubs could win the World Series, because the other players might think, why not?

But the world probably isn't going to end on December 21, 2012, and most of mankind will continue in its follies, its delusions and vanities, its greed and small-mindedness, missing the big picture as our days on Mother Earth grow shorter. Maybe the Mayans had the right idea, after all.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments (19)

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I think you missed the flip side of this. If the world is going to end, then some people could be completely antisocial and it wouldn't matter. They'd get away with it. The incentive to be a civil member of society would be gone and not everyone that acts morally is that way because their mother taught them to be. Ordinary seemingly decent individuals are also capable of awful things (just look at history).
So, not sure the real picture would be as rosey as you've described it. Living life only for the short term might sound like fun but not if everyone else is doing it too.

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Posted by DaveToolazytosignup on 01/05/2012 at 5:09 AM

I believed every one of Harold Camping's predictions (hell, I even believed Iben Browning's),so I obviously believe this one too.

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Posted by M_Awesomeberg on 01/05/2012 at 7:43 AM

For all the scientific poo-pooing, you have to admit that the end of the Mayan time cycle and the 26,000 year cosmic convergence occuring at the same time is one hell of a big coincidence. Too big to believe it really is a coincidence. How could they have possibly known?

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Posted by Jeff on 01/05/2012 at 7:57 AM

I always thought that the poor bastard that was ordered to carve the calendar just got tired and quit.

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Posted by mad_merc on 01/05/2012 at 8:21 AM

Just to play it safe, go ahead and pencil me in for a full-page ad in the 12/15 issue of the Flyer. If we're all gonna die, it'd be my dream come true for everyone to have a carnation pink keister courtesy of your friends at Smitty's Anal Bleaching.

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Posted by Smitty Patterson on 01/05/2012 at 8:22 AM

To answer all these questions, I will, for the next couple of hours be engaged in some deep perusal of my dog-eared copy of "Mayan Wisdom Made Easy."

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Posted by Packrat on 01/05/2012 at 8:28 AM

It's my uneducated understanding that the end of the Mayan calendar clearly says "continued on next stone" but the carver ran out of round tuits.

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Posted by Scott Banbury on 01/05/2012 at 9:01 AM

I blame the outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society. They're just trying to exploit the violence inherent in the system.




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Posted by B on 01/05/2012 at 9:58 AM

My daily event planner has pages for the remaining days of December. I suggest all Mayans purchase one to hedge their bets.

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Posted by Steve Vanmatre on 01/05/2012 at 9:59 AM

Bloody peasant!

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Posted by Packrat on 01/05/2012 at 10:16 AM

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony

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Posted by mad_merc on 01/05/2012 at 10:30 AM

This new learning amazes me, BV...
Tell us again again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

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Posted by B on 01/05/2012 at 11:37 AM

At this time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer, and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers, that their fathers put there only just the night before, 'bout eight o'clock.

Sorry to switch movies on you.

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Posted by Jeff on 01/05/2012 at 1:48 PM

I just returned from a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula and at the site of one of the Mayan ruins is a Mayan lady who's job it is to tell visitors that it's just the end of their calendar, not the entire world. That's it folks - straight from the source.

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Posted by Ron on 01/05/2012 at 1:58 PM

Like the Aztecs would always say, what's Mayan is urine.

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Posted by Am I Right? on 01/05/2012 at 2:32 PM

Silly sods.

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Posted by B on 01/05/2012 at 3:05 PM

Ron - and you believed a tour guide?

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Posted by Jeff on 01/05/2012 at 3:07 PM

On the 30th or 31st of last month, I saw a TV commercial about the "end of America, 2011". That followed several unsolicited mailings from Porter Stansberry that assured me the US Treasury bond market would collapse and the dollar would be worthless in "the next several months", before the end of 2011.

This is the first I've heard about this 26000 year alignment of the sun with the center of the Milky Way. Frankly, that sounds hokey, because the sun is constantly aligned with the center of the Milky Way. As I recall Euclidean geometry, two points determine a line.

I lived through the planetary alignment called the "Jupiter Effect" (which never really happened), the 40th anniversary of the founding of Israel (Jesus didn't return that year), Y2K, and 2011. Barring disease, accident, natural disaster, or nuclear holocaust, I think the odds are good that I'll live through December 2012.

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Posted by Brunetto Latini on 01/05/2012 at 9:31 PM

If we all knew when our last days on Earth would be, I think we would do what we really want to its fullest, call it vacations, expressing our real feelings, or spiritual and religious seeking.
But what we should think about and make it concious is that every day is a chance to be our last day on Earth, every minute. So... 21st December 2012 might sound surreal, powerful and magic... but what about leaving our bodies in a few... seconds? Hope we r ready.
Love from Argentina. Laura.

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Posted by Laura on 01/06/2012 at 12:25 PM
Showing 1-19 of 19

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