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Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Sterling Compass

On Dec. 21, 2012, the Ancient MayansLong Count calendar will end during the winter solstice, marking what many claim will be either the end of the world or the beginning of a new age of human prosperity. Some say cataclysmic natural disasters will destroy civilization while others believe the Earth’s alignment with the galactic center will elevate humanity to a higher level of consciousness.

But these dystopian and messianic assertions are equally moronic and are natural outgrowths of humanity’s desire to assign meaning to the inane and to ignore practical solutions in hopes of an eventual divine intervention.

Nobody really knows what will happen in 2012 because nobody can foresee the future and even if they could, there would be nothing to see because the future is not written and it is up to us to forge our own destinies.

Also keep in mind the 2012 hysteria is not unique. The most recent doomsday-mongering occurred a decade ago with the fear of the new millennium. A plethora of end-of-days scenarios captured the world’s imagination, ranging from the Y2K bug knocking human society back to the Stone Age to the second coming of Christ establishing a paradise on Earth.

Well, the year 2000 came and went and nothing extraordinary happened.

There was no technological meltdown or nuclear holocaust and Jesus decided he wasn’t ready to come out of his heavenly closet. With the exception of the inauguration of George W. Bush, nothing terrible happened.

But not all believe 2012 to be Doomsday, as many view it to be a second chance for humanity. They believe that after evolving to a higher level of spiritual awareness, humans will set aside their petty differences, join hands and singKumbayawith John Mayer around a campfire. Some even say extra-terrestrials will come to Earth in 2012 to save humanity from its self-destructive nature by endowing it with spectacular new technologies (or maybe just by disposing of John Mayer).

An army of Doomsday entrepreneurs have done their darnedest to make a quick buck on the growing apprehension of 2012. The History Channel’s Doomsday 2012: The End of Days is an attempt to boost ratings by playing on the fear of a 2012 disaster. Take a stroll through any local bookstore and you are sure to find a special section devoted to 2012 survival books and other literature on how to properly absorb the cosmic rays bathing the Earth after the galactic alignment.

Well, folks, I have good news and bad news.

First, the good news; the world is not going to end in 2012. Well, as long as Sarah Palin doesn’t run a successful campaign in the 2012 presidential election. No supernatural entity wrote in its At-A-Glance Millennial Planner: December 21, 2012; Unleash fire and brimstone upon the human race to punish it for giving birth to the wretched Miley Cyrus and for remaking Facebook in Twitter’s image.

As for the bad news, although humanity’s problems may not multiply in 2012, its existing ones won’t evaporate either.

So will anything good or bad happen in 2012? Well, the answer is a simple yes and in the words of the Men’s Warehouse guy,I guarantee it. Good and bad things happen every second of every day of every month of every year, regardless of how we feel about it and 2012 will be no different.

Ay, there’s the rub; we are predictability-loving creatures living in an unpredictable world.

We like the idea that the future has already been decided and we are just along for the ride and when reality disagrees with our naïve perception, our hopes and fears culminate in a desperate attempt to give order to the chaos.

But rather than giving in to our primitive natures we should pursue a more sensible path, using our ability to think logically to avert and respond to crises as they come to us.

Pervasive poverty, environmental decay, economic turmoil, senseless warfare; these are real problems demanding real solutions. Worrying about the end of the world or waiting for divine interference to save the world is the same as trying to pass your O-Chem midterm by eating a Coho no-tort chicken taco.

As the astute philosopher Jay-Z would put it,We got 99 problems but a 2012 doomsday ain’t one ofem.

 

MIKE HOWER’s got 99 problems and he’s pretty sure structural unemployment in the near future is one ofem. Please send all end-of-days hypotheses and job offers to mahower@ucdavis.edu.

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