One-Year Countdown to Human Extinction? A Brief, More Logical Look at the Mayan Calendar Issue

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Bolon Yokte' K'uh, lovable scamp. Source: Wikipedia

One year from today, on 21 December, 2012, humanity may or may not cease to exist depending on your interpretation of the Mayan calendar.  Actually, since almost none of us have ever seen the calendar itself and considering that we wouldn’t understand what it says if we did see it, what’s more accurately happened is that we’ve all picked which “end of the world” team to root for.  And because so many people have decided to pick one of the more pessimistic teams – the ones that claim that This Is Most Definitely It! despite the many, many, many previous pronouncements of the end of the world which have come and gone –  we’re seeing lots of perfectly nice people part ways with their hard-earned cash in an attempt to obtain some sort of security.  As if, of course, you could actually purchase any type of security if the world indeed had made up its mind and was planning to end.  I’m tempted to link to a few of the more obnoxious websites selling “2012 preparation supplies” but I won’t.

Quick primer for those of you who might have just gained access to the internet for the first time ever.  The Mayans (actually, the Olmec) were a fairly sophisticated lot who maintained a pretty accurate pre-European calendar based solely on astronomical observations.  The problem, again depending on your point of view, is that their most recent calendar – which, by the way, has lasted much longer than the Mayans themselves did (oh, the irony) – comes to the fairly abrupt halt of a 5,125-year run next December.  Food for thought.  And, evidently, con-artistry.

The end, by the way, corresponds with the arrival of some sort of god who goes by the name of Bolon Yokte’ K’uh shown at right.  I don’t know if he’s a benevolent god or a grumpy one but he certainly looks interesting.

Humans are blessed (possessed?) with the ability to interpret anything like this in lots of different shades of gray.   As a fan of the fairly odd and phenomenal, I’ve heard quite a bit about what the Mayans prophesied a year from now and I’ve decided I like Sven Gronemeyer’s take that on the subject, that the calendar “running out” isn’t a forecast of the apocalypse but instead just the start of a new era, an era that we probably wouldn’t have even noticed if there weren’t books and MREs to sell.

Yeah, I don’t think so. Image (ironically):

So what might you consider planning for?  Well, not the event itself but instead how people in general might react to it.  Because any time you want to take a serious situation and make it 10 times worse, all you need to do is throw in a bunch of people.  Just like with the Y2K panic, different types of personalities will respond differently to this ‘event.’  Might their collective behavior affect the electrical grid, the availability of food and the timely delivery of your pizza that night?  Sure.  But our clients and readers already know how to be prepared and self-sufficient.

The University of St. Thomas, my alma mater, requires that graduates spend a whole lotta’ hours focusing on the humanities and I didn’t get my diploma until I’d spent a good deal of time studying philosophy, religion, history and cultural anthropology.  My best guess about what’s going to happen next December?  Nothing.  I think the Olmec just ran out of room on the stone.  But the number of people who think otherwise is not, perhaps, insignificant.

But on the off chance that a year from now we do get swallowed by a black hole or the Earth becomes one with Nibiru, feel free to tell me I was wrong.  I won’t take it personally.

Tick, tick, tick . . .

To learn more about how best to prepare your organization and your employees for just about anything, visit ImpactReady.

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