The Mayan Calendar:
Is December 21, 2012
the End or an Opportunity for a
Written By Expert Aswynn Willowroot
Crouched in fear and huddled in makeshift shelters, the people began their all-night vigil, fervently praying to be spared from an unseen yet inevitable apocalyptic scourge which most certainly would culminate in the end of time itself.
No, this isn't an excerpt from the National Geographic reality series, "Doomsday Preppers."
It is instead a description of New Year's Eve in the year 999. Christians had been anxiously awaiting planetary Armageddon since the death of Christ and Medieval millennialism spurred ongoing fears that an epic final battle between the Antichrist and the Messiah was soon at hand.
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"By 999 strange omens had started to fill the sky…empires collapsed as famine, disease and political chaos and religious fervor swept the globe. To many it seemed as if the world was coming to an end,” writes Michael Staunton of NewsChief.com.
But the world didn't end at dawn in the year 1,000. Nor will it end at the height of the Winter Solstice on December 21, 2012 -- more commonly known as the fated "last day" inscribed on the Mayan Long Count Calendar.
While popular culture, Hollywood and doomsday profiteers seem more than willing to espouse that "the end is nigh," it is important to distinguish fact from fiction.
David Stuart, professor of Mesoamerican art and writing at the University of Texas at Austin, whose early work and decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs led to his MacArthur Fellowship or "genius grant" in 1984 has long said the world has misinterpreted the Mayan Calendar.
"There is a date this year -- in the year 2012 -- in late December, which will see the turn of a cycle… it's a significant point in the ancient Maya calendar. Now, did the Maya ever say anything about this date? Did they ever predict anything? No -- absolutely not," Stuart said in an interview with EarthSky.org.
Furthermore, inscriptions found in a Mayan temple located in Chiapas, Mexico, mention events set to occur far into the future, in the year 4772.
"The Maya calendar not only doesn't end, but it keeps going for eons and eons beyond 2012. If you look at the real structure of the calendar, it's almost endless. It goes well beyond the end of our universe and our kind of scientific cosmology," Stuart continued.
But why do apocalyptic fears surrounding December 21, 2012 still persist even in the face of scholarly evidence to the contrary?
The simple answer is fear can be monetized. Movie tickets, multiple cans of tuna fish and survivalist training packages sell far better than "boring" rational arguments.
And while fear does make money, it also diverts attention away from the important planetary challenges which recently have become too large to further ignore.
But mankind still has time.
The close of 2012 could be heralded not as "the end" but marked instead as the beginning -- the start of a profound change in the direction of the planet and humanity's collective fate. So stop worrying, and start making plans for a fantastic future!
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