From Our Archives
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister
Well, here we go again. We lived through the superstition of the Millennium and Armageddon, staggered by the onslaught of superstition and ignorance, masquerading under the phony and scary heading of “prophecy.” This virus of illiteracy even affected the Oval office. Then President Reagan’s weird and stupid speculations about an “imminent arrival of Amageddon in the Middle East” left intelligent people gasping.
Today we are playing that tape again with the gullibility of the American public. We are being smothered by radio, books, television and movies by those out to make a buck, about the disaster and world destruction waiting for us on Dec 21, 2012, when the Mayan calendar predicts an apocalypse for the end of the year, end of the world (they say). It will be open season on reason, rationality, normal intelligence and religious literacy. “Survival kits” are now being sold by the con men and fast buck operators. Sandra Noble, the Executive director of Mesoamerican Research Foundation, says: “portrayal of that date as doomsday is a total fabrication and a chance for a lot of slick people to cash in.”
But to refresh your memory about the “millenniumn, armageddon” circus for the gullible clowns that set the stage for the circus being replayed today under a different heading, what seemed to be missing from the brain/mind (I use the words loosely) is the fact that time is fiction. Time is man-made. A history of man-made calendars would enlighten many.
Christian fundamentalists of course are panting for the day when Armageddon arrives, but with the vast majority of the world it is a non-event. In the Jewish calendar the year 2000 was 5760, no big deal. For Muslims, who date from Muhammad’s move from Mecca to Medina, it was the Islamic year 1420. Muhammad said that the “day of doom” would not come for another 50,000 years. The Islamic calendar follows the cycles of the moon rather than the sun, and that year was 1418. In the Chinese lunar calendar, it was 4695. Hindus were in the midst of a calendrical cycle that has over 350,000 years to go until it ends.
With all American Indian concepts of time, this entire subject is absurd. Most American Indian languages do not have past and future tenses; they reflect rather a perennial reality of the now.
What an interesting contrast in mentalities. Christian fundamentalists waiting for the world to be destroyed in flames. And the beautiful thought of the American Indian living the perennial reality of the now.
So, here we are again with the gullible shaking over the Mayan 2012 so-called prophecy, and the literate being amused once again by the circus. Several weeks ago, in Mexico City, a conference was held with the leading scholars on this subject. The conclusion was that Maya predictions and prophecy had nothing to do with the “end of the world”…but only with more humdrum events like droughts or disease outbreaks. Maya never made prophecies in a fatalistic sense. Many ancient Maya monuments talk about events far, far in the future from Dec. 21, 2012. The Maya used a “Long Count Calendar” for all normal events of day by day living that had nothing to do with fatalistic “end of world” stuff being fed to us by those “out to make a buck.”
December 21, 2012, is simply a date that the calendar will go into the next long count, which will happen on October 13, 4772.
Oh well, the clowns of superstition and “militant ignorance” (as Goethe put it) do keep us entertained as we smile at the fiction that live with the millennium and armageddon… a Mayan fantasy of Dec 21, 2012. We may “smile” but superstition also has a sad and destructive side when it takes over human lives. We must never forget that.