Eighteen days away, hysteria over the fate of our planet Earth on 21 December this year has been reported in some parts of the world, with Russia and France in the lead.
Religious and very superstitious Nigeria is not yet betraying signs of apprehension over this date, which doomsday prophets said will mark the end of this world.
The prediction is based on an ancient hieroglyphic text by an ancient civilization, the Mayans based in the Guatemalan jungle in South America. An international team of archeologists who stumbled over new texts some months ago, further fuelled the doomsday scenario, as the 1,300 year old inscription they found carved on a stone staircase at the ruins of La Corona also bears the end date: 21 December, 2012. Though scholars have debunked the interpretation, saying the date was a reference to something else, and that other texts refered to events beyond 2012, the doomsday fears continue to seize the imagination, in some parts of the world.
The New York Times reported today about “scattered reports of unusual behavior from across Russia’s nine time zones.
“Inmates in a women’s prison near the Chinese border are said to have experienced a “collective mass psychosis” so intense that their wardens summoned a priest to calm them. In a factory town east of Moscow, panicked citizens stripped shelves of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles. A huge Mayan-style archway is being built — out of ice — on Karl Marx Street in Chelyabinsk in the south.
“For those not schooled in New Age prophecy, there are rumors the world will end on December 21, 2012, when a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar supposedly comes to a close.
“Russia, a nation with a penchant for mystical thinking, has taken notice.
“Last week, Russia’s government decided to put an end to the doomsday talk. Its minister of emergency situations said Friday that he had access to “methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet Earth,” and that he could say with confidence that the world was not going to end in December.
“He acknowledged, however, that Russians were still vulnerable to “blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, floods, trouble with transportation and food supply, breakdowns in heat, electricity and water supply.”
“Similar assurances have been issued in recent days by Russia’s chief sanitary doctor, a top official of the Russian Orthodox Church, lawmakers from the State Duma and a former disc jockey from Siberia who recently placed first in the television show “Battle of the Psychics.” One official proposed prosecuting Russians who spread the rumor — starting on December 22.
“You cannot endlessly speak about the end of the world, and I say this as a doctor,” said Leonid Ogul, a member of Parliament’s environment committee. “Everyone has a different nervous system, and this kind of information affects them differently. Information acts subconsciously. Some people are provoked to laughter, some to heart attacks, and some — to some negative actions.”
“Russia is not the only country to face this problem.
“In France, the authorities plan to bar access to Bugarach mountain in the south to keep out a flood of visitors who believe it is a sacred place that will protect a lucky few from the end of the world. The patriarch of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church recently issued a statement assuring the faithful that “doomsday is sure to come,” but that it will be provoked by the moral decline of mankind, not the “so-called parade of planets or the end of the Mayan calendar.”
However as the New York Times reported, the apprehension about 21 December is not noticeable among the large Mayan population in Yucatán State in Mexico.
“Most place little stock in end-of-days talk”.
Indeed, officials are planning a Mayan cultural festival on Dec. 21 and, to show that all will be well after that, a follow-up in 2013.
In Guatemala itself, more than half of the population who are of Mayan descent are reportedly angry with their government over the misinterpretation of their ancient calendar, with its distortion as a ‘prophet of doom’.
Ian O’Neill in a report 26 October published by Discovery News, said Mayan leaders have “accused the Guatemalan government of perpetuating the myth that the Mayan Long Count calendar predicts the end of the world for financial gain”
“We are speaking out against deceit, lies and twisting of the truth and turning us into folklore-for-profit. They are not telling the truth about time cycles”, the AFP quoted Felipe Gomez, leader of the Maya Alliance Oxlaljuj Ajpop.
The Oxlaljuj Ajpop said in the report by O’Neill, that the end of the cycle simply means “there will be big changes on the personal, family and community level, so that there is harmony and balance between mankind and nature”.
It certainly does not mean that the world will come to an end and that everyone who isn’t prepared will die.
To buttress the charge by Mayans that their government was promoting the doomsday theory for profit, the Guatemalan culture ministry is hosting a ‘doomsday event in Guatemala city on 21 December, with many tourism groups seizing the opportunity to create ‘doomsday tours.’
Oxlaljuj Ajpop condemned the festival as disrespectful to the Mayan culture.
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It means that here in Nigeria, we do not really need to be bothered by the Mayan frenzy and the 21 December doomsday jitters. Life continues beyond the date. The 21 December doomsday is a big scam, promoted for pecuniary gains.
Let’s therefore prepare for a grand celebration in Christmas and the New Year of 2013.