The end of the world is so deeply embedded in our psyches, chances are it will actually happen some day. In fact, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the sun will eventually burn out, which will obviously have negative effects on earth-life. You don’t need to prepare a disaster kit for this event just yet, since Dr. David Hathaway, a solar scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, says, (with great precision) that the sun will not burn out for “about 4.5 billion years, give or take a billion.”
The Mayan Apocalypse caused an uproar in China, which, compared to the U.S., is Apocalypse-deprived. According to al-Jazeera, 20 percent of Chinese believed the world would end December 21, 2012 and some built survival pods. A man who attacked children and teachers at a Chinese school was reportedly affected by doomsday rumors. In Russia people were emptying shelves of supplies needed to survive the end of the world, which apparently includes such items as matches, kerosene, sugar and candles. On the bright side, tourism to Mayan sites in Mexico boosted their economy, while real Mayans repeated over and over, “No, the world is not going to end on December 21.”
No matter that real Mayans said this. No matter that experts on the famous calendar stone said Mayans consider the end of any cycle to be the beginning of a new cycle. No matter that the whole frenzy is based on a stone which says, “It will happen…” and the rest is chipped off. The ability to fill in the blanks appears to be a gift of the human imagination, for better or worse.
Most Americans took the Mayan Apocalypse in stride. Americans have their own pet end-time stories, one of which is the Zombie Apocalypse: the undead will roam about eating the brains and flesh of the living. Does anyone take this seriously? Perhaps not, though the Center for Disease Control took advantage of Zombie disaster awareness to post a to-do list for surviving a Zombie Apocalypse. As CDC Director Dr. Ali Khan, notes, "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack."
A vast swath of American Christians cling to a certain version of the end of the world bolstered by the sales of 28 million copies of Hal Lindsey’s Late, Great Planet Earth in the 1970s and now right-wing political activist Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series, which have sold 65 million copies. Unlike the Mayan and Zombie Apocalypses, the Christian one is unlikely to pass anytime soon and it has real-world consequences, such as fanatically blind support for Israel no matter what it does and a disinterest in the long-range well-being of the nation. Why bother with education, health or improving American infrastructure? It’s all going up in smoke soon and did you see that Israel is threatening Lebanon/Iran/Syria? Praise the Lord and pass the Rapture robes.
Je' Czaja was a missionary and founder/Director of faith-based non profit organizations serving disadvantaged children and youth. She has been a writer and illustrator for over twenty years. She is an independent researcher on human nature and the history and power of ideas.