There has been a lot of chatter about the Mayan prediction that the world is going to end in 2012. There has been a movie made about it. There is a lot of fascination about the prospect of the world ending. Having been a child of the 60’s, I am not a stranger to the concept of the end of the world. I remember those days in October, 1962 of the “Cuban Missile Crisis.” I was only 10-years-old. I recall the air-raid drills, and “duck and cover.” When it looked like the nuclear missiles were for sure going to be launched I recall how disconcerting it was to watch how adults reacted to this news. My mother became very down-trodden and grave. My fifth-grade teacher at school stopped in the middle of an air-raid drill, and said, “…oh, why bother? When ‘the bomb” hits we are ALL going to disintegrate anyway…”
I remember being sent home from school early so that we could all die with our families. It was like society was just giving up. It was like everyone was just rolling over and giving up. This brings me to the question, why are so many people fascinated about the end of the world?
Maybe it the inability of the human mind to comprehend the infinite and the eternal. Perhaps our minds find some kind of solace in the idea of an end to it all. We all know our mortal lives have a beginning, middle, and end. However it is hard to fathom that Life, Existence, the Universe are infinite and eternal; no beginning, and no ending. It is like trying to imagine where you were before your birth? If you believe in reincarnation, then the answer is simple, you were simply someone else. However if you don’t believe that, where were you? Trying to imagine nothingness, non-existence can be frightening and confusing. When you fall asleep each night, in those moments when you are not dreaming, where are you? The fear that emerges when confronting the unknown, is deeply rooted in our survival instincts. We think about it, prepare for it, contemplate it as a way of somehow finding a way to survive it. The irony of it all is, being mortal, we all are going to die someday anyway. Trying to find a way to prevent the end of the world is a way of maintaining our own existence. If there is no one to remember us, to talk about us, the think about us, then in fact we really will no longer exist.
In the 1980’s I attended a event led by a gentleman named Werner Erhard. He is the founder of est, and the inventor of the Forum. The event was entitled A STAND FOR THE FUTURE. At the beginning of the talk, he started to go over all of the different ways that humanity could come to an end. He spoke about 1) thermonuclear war, 2) biological war and plagues, 3) the collapse of the world banks and global economic failures, 4) global starvation and famine, 5) a new ice age, 6) the sun going super-nova. What Werner was pointing to that were was a long list of ways the world could come to an end. There is no shortage of ways we can all go into oblivion. Werner predicted a more dire fate. He said what probably was going to happen was NOT some spectacular, explosive finish to the human story. What he predicted was far more grim. He predicted it would just go on and on in the same petty pace. To quote Shakespeare, “…
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5, 19-28
This quote kind of framed the fate of humanity. A poor player, an idiot, a fool, whose life does not matter and makes no difference. What Werner ended up challenging everyone listening to do is to “swing out, stick your neck out, take a chance, and have your life MAKE A DIFFERENCE…” Whether or not the world ends in 2012, we have this moment, we have this lifetime to do with whatever we choose to do. Who cares if the world is going to end? At this moment we are alive and can act, and speak, and cause our lives and the lives around us.
I predict the OLD WORLD ends in 2012, and a NEW WORLD is launched in 2012… time will tell!