First of all, every time some yahoo says something about the impending “doomsday,” I think about the DC supervillain, Doomsday, and then I think about Superman: Doomsday, the animated film (arguably not for kids) which gets me to cry every time that I see it because after watching Superman get beaten to death by a horrible monster, you then see Lois Lane and Martha Kent crying and I just can’t handle it.
ANYWAY, you guys, the world is not ending this December 21st. And I think that few people would agree with me more than the ancient Mayans. Or contemporary Mayans, really.
It’s not a doomsday prophesy. It’s not really a prophesy (the word “prophecy” is generally misused, but that is an entirely different issue). It’s a calendar marking cyclical events. In the simplest terms, the Mayan “Long Count” calendar is a very lengthy unit of time as expressed in the charting of time. Just like a decade or a century or a millennium. In this case, it was based upon (and I won’t walk you through the math that adds up to it), a period of 5,125 years.
At the end of such a period, there is a transition—to the next set of years. That is all. You celebrate it like you celebrate the dawn of a new millennium. That was the Mayan view of things. It’s an arbitrary date to celebrate the passing of time. I am writing a book. I am reasonably pleased when I finish writing a chapter; I am much more excited when I finish a chapter whose number is a multiple of ten. Why? Mostly because our numbering system is a base-ten system, and so we tend to identify milestones by multiples of ten.
Like any significant date on the calendar, you will always have crazy people who believe that doomsday is here. Not only is this not what the Mayans believed (or believe) about this upcoming Winter Solstice (that’s the 21st, you guys). It is just not a Mayan kind of belief. It is, though not uniquely so, a Judeo-Christian concept. One of the beliefs of early Judaism which set it apart from the beliefs of other northwestern Semitic peoples was that there would be a divinely ordained End Of The World in which the dead would be bodily resurrected—which was why burial in which bodies were intact until burial was important. Christianity has, from the very beginning, held a belief in the very imminent end of the world, one that has evolved with time (and, interestingly, a coded message to fellow Christians became the Book of Revelation which …