Some people have short attention spans for explanations. They, instead, like to be told stories — it gives them a beginning and an end, but not necessarily a reason.
December 12, 2012 is the end of the world. That’s a big story. December 12, 2012 is the date that the 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar ends. That calendar belongs to the Mayans, who apparently forgot to make it infinitely long. Because of this oversight, some people, who like stories, think we’re doomed.
It’s not clear how this December doomsday will manifest itself. Will we be flamed out in a solar maximum? Dyson-sucked down a black hole? Serenaded by the Four Horsemen and then busted by an asteroid? Maybe a holographic white-bearded deity in a rainbow robe will hover in the sky, utter something profound, wiggle its nose and poof, we’re gone. Who knows? If we ARE coming to a 12/12/12 ending — a final resolve to this story — why not max out our credit cards, complete our bucket lists, pick out some pretty dresses and stub hub a loge seat for that special day?
Me. I’m not concerned about narrative doom. I’ve been through cosmic cataclysms before. As a result, for better or worse, I’m a post-modern guy. Endings don’t carry that much weight with me. You see, I come from an apocalypically challenged family. As a 5-year old, I was subjected to end of the world lectures from a respected elder — my Grandmother Ruth. She believed the world was going to end in 1954. I learn a lot from her that year. I learned about paranoia, helplessness, and stoicism. And, I learned that even though you may wish your elders were not irrational — you may be disappointed. As it was, my grandmother Ruth spent a good part of my early childhood, developing my sense of global termination.
Ruth’s apocalyptic belief system was informed by Dr. Clem Davies, a religious charlatan who held Sunday services at the Biltmore Theater in downtown Los Angeles, broadcasting his endtimes messages over KMTR radio.
For the record, history is littered with end of the world predictions. In the last 100 years, there’s been billions, including a lights-out-with-rapture in 1981 predicted by Orange County’s own Chuck Smith, Pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa and a global death sentence in 1982 predicted by slimy hang-dog Reverend Pat Robertson.
What makes these predictions so discomforting is not their message, but that they distract us from real endtime prevention measures, like using less fossil fuel, or curtailing biological warfare, or eliminating nuclear weapons. Those things would require understanding explanations and spending time on solutions. The Armageddon crowd will have none of that crap. They’re an impatient lot. They want their end of the world now. They want it neat and tidy, not slow and preventable. Most of them are rushing toward the end times because their heaven looks so damn good. For them apocalypse is the big ending and the big beginning all rolled into one exploding cigar.
A stopped clock is right twice a day, but my grandmother Ruth was just wrong. The world did not come to an end in 1954. After that, whenever the subject of the end of the world came up at the Callahan house, Grandma would say, “You wait and see.” Too many years later, I’m still waiting and here’s my prediction: The world may or may not end anytime soon, but you and I surely will. That’s a good enough story for me.
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