By Vern Hee
If you are reading this, you have survived. The world did not come to end, but how and why not?
How could you still be here? Something went wrong. The signs were all around us.
We read stories in the news, 26 students and teachers killed in a recent shooting; hurricane Sandy wipes out a large part of New York and the eastern seaboard killing over 100 people; people in Israel dying at the hands of Muslim extremists and Egypt in turmoil.
A person might have watched that Nostradamus guy on the History Channel. He predicted apocalyptic turmoil and it was after all a documentary, so there must be some truth to it, right?
Then there is the Mayan calendar, somehow the Mayans have calculated the calendar would end Dec. 21. History tells us they were really good at math. So it all makes sense. It is all adding up. This is the end. Or is it?
People hear the darnedest things and get their news and facts from the strangest places.
Local resident Dustin Erickson does not believe the world is coming to an end, but he does know hundreds of kids will not be going to school on Friday. How does he know? He went to Walmart in Pahrump and heard it there.
“I heard a bunch of teenagers walking around the store,” he said. “They said they heard a lot of teens were bringing guns to school because of the end of the world. I also heard this is all over Facebook, too.”
His girlfriend, Sarah Davis agreed. She read all about it on Facebook.
“It’s all over Facebook so I told my mother, ‘just in case please do not go to work tomorrow,’” she said.
Her mother teaches at the high school.
Pretty powerful stuff this social media. The people in town throw it around like it is a news agency. It has played a big role in many lives. Today, social media is almost like your personal consultant. There are millions of Americans who don’t leave the house before consulting social media.
Facebook, it pretty much feeds into whatever frenzy and fans the flames. If people checked into their Facebook yesterday, then they might believe the world is coming to an end.
There is one string of posts in town called Positive Pahrump, a Facebook page with 5,000 followers gathering the best and the brightest minds in the town.
This page had over 66 people commenting on why their child would not be going to school because of the end of the world.
Andy, a facebook poster, wanted to make it clear, “Nobody really believes the world is coming to an end. Nothing has shown up on my doorstep yet.”
Then there is Michelle, who said she didn’t believe the world was coming to end but wasn’t going to take any chances, “I’m keeping my kids home, not because of the world coming to an end, but because I worry about what the crazy people who think the world is ending will do.”
Finally, there was a post that made good sense. Terey, the hippie chick, just had enough with all the nonsense and finally wrote, “Oh my, the truth hurts and many are blind! Wake up America, research and research a lot … you might just amaze yourself and learn things that you never thought could ever be true!”
Well, taking her lead some research was done into the Mayan calendar.
First on the list was a local religious leader, after all, this business is a Christian belief. Christians believe the world will some day come to an end and they should, of all people, know if this is the end.
Reverend Henry Salditos, Our Lady of the Valley Roman Catholic Church, recently said he is certain the world is not coming to an end, but said the people who believed it would should focus on the day-to-day living of their lives and not the negativity.
He said people should be more positive. They should go out and do more good for their fellow man. In other words, live your life and be a positive force in the world.
With that in mind, an expert in Mayan affairs was then consulted.
Who were the Mayans and how can they have this much control? After all, they led very mundane lives in a jungle deep in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico over 5,000 years ago. Who were these people that they could predict the world coming to an end?
Dr. Rosemary Joyce, professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley specializes in Central American cultures. Berkeley is ranked third in the country in Central American studies and archeology for that part of the world.
She said the Maya really had nothing to do with this end of days prediction and the Maya were victims of New Age movements in the 20th century in the United States.
“These movements took advantage of recent advances in deciphering Mayan inscriptions. One of the things that was circulating at this time was the first-generation text,” said Joyce.
She said a date appeared on this text of Dec. 21, 2012, but the significance of it was not known at the time. This was back in the 1970’s.
“It just was not clear what the inscription was saying about the date. Unfortunately, it allowed people to pour into the inscription the idea that this was a prophecy of the end of time.
Today we know what that inscription says. It is an inscription that is recording the dedication in the seventh century, 600 A.D., of a temple. It says, this dedication is taking place thousands of year before Dec. 21, 2012 and it is a way to anchor an event in the past by making a reference to way in the future. This is something the Maya did a lot of,” said Joyce.
She said New Age Christians took the Creation mythology of the Maya and referred back to those earlier creations as destroyed. It doesn’t mean there is a prediction of our world being destroyed.
“That’s not part of the Mayan culture or part of Mayan ideology, but it is part of our time or Christian ideology and these people merged the two cultures together.
The Mayan calendar doesn’t end Dec. 21. What happens on this date is one cycle of the calendar ends. The calendar is divided differently than ours.” She said what is ending for the Maya was similar to a century for our culture.
“A 394-year cycle is ending and a new one is beginning. The Maya have other inscriptions that record dates into the future and that is how we know their calendar is not coming to an end because they record dates 4472 AD,” said the professor.
Joyce said Mayan scholars all are in 100 percent agreement, the world is not coming to an end, at least not according to the Mayans.