December 21, 2012 has arived already for much of the world. As of this post, it is already afternoon on the 21 of December in Australia, and the date is now dawning across Europe.
As most know, this is the day that much todo has been made of due to reports that it was the last day listed on the Mayan Calendar. To some, this equated to a prediction of the end of the world. Of course, if you actually look at the beliefs of the Mayans, that’s not what it would mean, and even if it did, there’s no reason to think that the ancient civilization would have some magical insight into the future. There are no indications that anything is actually going to happen to the earth or humanity on this day.
So, why then, should this cause any concern?
December 21, 2012 is certainly not the first day which is predicted to be doomsday and it won’t be the last. However, it has gotten much more media coverage and more than most and has a greater number of serious followers than most such predicted events.
Doomsday cults and predictions have been around for at least centuries. In each case, the predictions have failed to materialize, leading to some extreme disipointments. In a few notable cases, some of the followers were so convinced that the world was about to end, they had abandoned their belongs, left jobs and otherwise destroyed their lives in the expectations of the end of days. While there are few reports of that happening in preparation for December 21, 2012, there are many who have invested a great deal in shelters and survival equipment in the hope of making it through the fall of human civilization. (Of course, they can always use that stuff for the next predicted end of the world.)
Yet there is still some danger in these widespread beliefs. Those who have bought into the idea that the coming day marks some great disaster or even the end of the world may simply wait for it to happen and then react with great disappointment when they wake up on the 22nd and realize they didn’t buy any Christmas presents or pay their bills for the month. However, for the more extreme, and especially those who may have been followers of cults or movements centered around the prediction that the world is about to end, there is a danger of more extreme reactions.
Although rare, some doomsday predictions have resulted in mass suicide or violence. In 1995, members of the the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult came to believe that the end of the world was upon them and that their leader, a reincarnation of Jesus Christ, was preparing to save the sinners of the world, but that in order for this to happen, a great war, which had been foretold, must begin. Their convoluted beliefs motivated them to release sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo Subway, injuring hundreds and killing thirteen and injuring hundreds.
Suicides have been more common. Members of the French Cult, the Order of the Solar Temple, were part of a handful of high profile mass suicides in the 1990′s. In 1997, 39 members of the group Heaven’s Gate committed suicide, believing that an alien spacecraft, following the Comet Hale-Bopp was arriving to deliver their souls from earth. (It is unclear whether they believed this was directly related to the end of the world, although apparently they expected that would occur in the relatively near future.)
I certainly do not wish to raise the alarm and nobody should be overly concerned of major acts of terrorism – such actions can happen anytime, anyway. In all likelihood the day will pass without any major incidents. However, if you happen to have a friend or family member who is very deeply involved in cult-like practices or is just prone to taking these things very seriously, it might be a good idea to check up on them.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 at 11:19 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, History, religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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