December 20, 2012

The End of the World

In my 24 years, the world has been scheduled to end at least 3 times. I remember the fear of Y2K, when the new century would not be compatible with the way computers had been programed and the whole technological world was going to be thrust into chaos. Bank accounts were going to be wiped clean, all business transactions were going to go haywire and the world as we knew it would end. So everyone celebrated New Year's with the fear of not knowing what would happen the morning of 1/1/2001. 

It was scary, especially for a kid who barely knew what any of it meant. For all we knew, it meant the end of the world and we closed our eyes on new year's eve waiting for the chaos to commence. At 11 years old, we were far too cool to admit we were scared. Then we woke up, we called our friends on the phones (which were in our rooms, that was a big deal back then) and realized that everything was the same. The only reported issues were some people who had rented movies were charged hundred year old late fees, which were easily corrected.

So by the time the next end of the world came in 2011, I was older and some might say, wiser. Millions of people did not rapture as anticipated. Nor did they on the extended deadline date. Thanks Harold Camping. Although we did get to read lots of funny articles and meme images with witty titles such as "Apocalypse not right now," so at least there was some entertainment value there.

Now, I normally wouldn't comment about something so silly as the end of the world. You weren't worried, were you? But recently I was teaching a bunch of 16 year olds who were more honest than I would have been at that age. "We're scared!" they told me. Everyone says it's going to be the end of the world." They told me that the Mayans foretold it. The end is coming.

Maybe it is coming. But the Mayans didn't predict that. This is one of those history myths that refuses to die but people keep telling because it makes a better story. The Mayans long-form calender will end but a new one will begin and bring a new era with it. Regardless, why are we trusting the Mayans now? After all, they didn't predict their own demise.

I'd like to wish everyone a happy end of the world. Maybe the lesson we should take away from this is one that Gandhi said many years ago: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Every day may be the end of the world, make the most of it.

Images taken at the University of Penn Museum of Archeology's Maya 2012 Exhibit.


  1. After today, I'll be curious to see what new "date of our doom" will be hyped up to replace this one.

  2. Yes, there have been no shortages of doomsday prophesies. :)


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