“This is the way the world ends”

 

“This is the way the world ends/This Is The Way The World Ends…”(T.S. Eliot,”The Hollow Men”)

(December 21, 2012)
This end of the world talk is getting to annoy me a bit, like the way the “fiscal cliff” annoys me, like the big bang annoys me: one big blast and it’s over: but what’s really annoying about the end of the world talk is that it’s closed some State of Michigan schools early for the Christmas break because some students were thought to be planning one last bit of chaos before the end. Now who told everybody about this prediction of coming Armageddon? I first heard of it from a neighbour who was going to do what he’d been putting off and might attempt before the end of the world came. I told him not to worry because I’d lived through many of these weird predictions and nothing had happened. And long ago the early Christians were said to have lived in constant dread of an imminent cataclysmic final day, perhaps corresponding to the declining Roman civilization.

But again who told everybody the world would end this month? Not only my neighbour, and the students and educators at the U.S. schools that closed early knew about it, but shortly after I first heard of this prediction I read of a student at a local high school wanting his teachers to talk about something important: the Mayan prediction of the world’s ending in December 2012. And twice today my wife wanted to talk about it. Well who told her to worry about it? Who told students and teachers about the Mayan Apocalyptic vision in this age of science , Masters and PHD education? What sort of qualifications in cosmology did the Mayan’s have to know the world would end this month hundreds of years after they themselves had been lost in archaeological dust? Yet despite our higher scientific and technological learning we allowed the prediction of ancient sun worshippers who lived in fear of the sun’s light extinguishing to confuse our sense of reality, and undermine our scientific confidence and wisdom.