Early tomorrow morning, 5,125 years of the Mayan Long Count calendar will culminate in what some believe will be the end of the world, and people across the globe are anxiously waiting for whatever awaits.
Preparations have been made, ranging from practical responses — such as the runs made on Russian grocery stores by people stocking up on candles and salt — to outlandish responses. Those listening to John Hodgman’s survival tips, for example, have sold all of their possessions and retreated to the top of a Massachusetts’ mountaintop where they hope to find refuge from dogs and a deathly “blood wave” come Friday morning.
Still, the 10% of people worldwide who believe in this Mayan doomsday prophecy are far outnumbered by skeptics, such as New Mexico State Anthropology Professor Weldon Lamb who considers this end-of-the-world craze to be a product of “sensationalism and ignorance.” Dr. Lamb, an epigrapher who has learned to interpret inscriptions found on Mayan artifacts, maintains that there is no such apocalyptic Mayan prophecy. Mayan descendant Jose Manrique Esquivel also refutes the prophecy and maintains that the 21st of December will only bring “the beginning of a new era,” and not a calamitous end.
Independent of all the many different responses and reactions to this Mayan Prophecy, however, there are really only two possible outcomes. Either the doomsdayers are correct and the world will end in a few short hours, taking all of us with it, or the sun will rise on Saturday morning, and we all will return to our pre-apocalypse lives.
Those who counted on the world’s end will face some peculiar problems. Several who bought ark-like survival pods in China will wonder what to do with these vessels absent apocalyptic floodwaters. Those who followed John Hodgman’s advice will be left with many bottles of their own urine and lots of mayonnaise, not to mention the challenge of surviving without the possessions they sold in anticipation of the world’s end.
The rest of the world’s people will face their own issues. Americans will find out whether their elected officials will take them over “the fiscal cliff,” and stomach whatever mixture of spending cuts and tax increases is produced in Washington, D.C. Gun control debates will still rage in the wake of last week’s massacre in Newtown, Conn. Individuals worldwide will face many more problems, the vast majority of which will matter little, if anything, to anyone else but them and those closest to them.
So what is the Mayan prophecy really about? Assuming life does go on, the prophecy is little more than a meaningless, momentary distraction. For better and worse, life will go on and whatever challenges facing us right now will remain on December 22nd, leaving each of us to decide what to do next. Unless, of course, the world does come to an end. In that case, farewell.