2012

Posted on 31/12/2011

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On the 21st day of the twelfth month of this new year, 2012, the world will come to an end – if you believe the adherents and protagonists of the Mayan calendar, and all those Doomsday philosophers. The Maya calendar is a system of calendars used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and in many modern communities in highland Guatemala and Mexico, (Southern America) dating back at least to the 5th century, BCE. For followers of Mesoamerican history, there was a 260-day count known as the Tzolkin, which  was combined with a 365-day vague solar year known as the Haab, to form a synchronized cycle lasting for 52 Haabs, called the Calendar Round. Smaller cycles of 13 days (the trecena) and 20 days (the veintena) were important components of the Tzolkin and Haab cycles, respectively. The Calendar Round is still in use by many groups in the Guatemalan highlands. A different calendar however, was used to track longer periods of time, and for the inscription of calendar dates, and  identifying when one event occurred in relation to others. This is the Long Count. It is a count of days since a mythological starting-point. Although the Mesoamerican calendar did not originate with the Maya, their subsequent extensions and refinements of it were regarded as one of the most sophisticated,  best-documented and most completely understood.

According to the Mayan Long Count calendar, December 21, 2012, also the winter solstice, is the end of what is a 144,000 day cycle that has repeated a dozen times already in Mayan calculus. The baktun that will end in 2012 is the thirteenth such, presumably a full 5,200 year cycle of creation. The Maya name for a day was k’in. Twenty of these k’ins are known as a winal or uinal. Eighteen winals make one tun. Twenty tuns are known as a katun. Twenty katun make a baktun. The next baktun is believed to be the apocalypse! There are quite a few similarities between Mayan theory and Biblical philosophy. And between apocalypse and Armageddon.

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:25-26.

Did you watch ‘2012,’ the movie? We all did. Deep down inside all of us, the human side of us rules, the part that controls our emotions – love, and want, vanity and fear! How many of us have given a thought to what would happen, on that ‘final day?’ In your mind’s eye does it look anything like how film director, Roland Emmerich portrayed it? In violence, fear, panic, greed and desperation? But before you begin fretting over all this, a number of experts, scientists and astronomers have disputed the fact that the world will end this year. Many of the so-called Doomsday theories have been oft debunked, like that of a rogue planet hitting Earth and throwing our planet out of trajectory, to a sudden heat wave from the sun aiming huge fireballs at us, or a magnetic pole reversal that will cause a massive global disruption to all technologies and existence. However, one theory that has been put forth is that this date signifies a rare alignment of the Milky Way galaxy that only occurs once every twenty five thousand years. Some researchers believe that this rare alignment is something that could cause a shift of the magnetic poles.

If the world was going to end, would you be ready? Take a look at your life, so far – and age is irrelevant at this point in time, what would become of us, in the ‘afterlife?’ Ignoring the Mayan predictions and biblical portents, there are so many signs around us, things occurring in more regular cycles than the norm, to portend that sooner, rather than later, something rather drastic’s got to give. From senseless killings, sordid stories, bestial occurrences, natural disasters. From Asia, to Africa, to America – tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, fires, human-inflicted disasters. Murders, arson, killings galore. Airplane crashes, wars, earthquakes, accidents. False prophets, prosperity churches, the rise of cultic worship, Illuminati. Sex on display, marriages on per second billing, sons and daughters with no fathers. Sometimes you would agree that God has every right to be angry – look what we’ve done to the world?

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Would you want the world to end, now? You would want the world to end if you owed your bank an unbelievable amount of money that you had no intention of paying back. Or if you had just lost your entire family in a Boko Haram attack. Would you want it to end if you just got a government appointment, or just won a million dollar lottery, or just celebrated a child’s christening, or birthday? Have you heard about the tale of the ancient bird of yore, the Phoenix? It’s a story that is shared by all ancient religions and civilisations, from Rome, to Greece, to China, and Egypt and still remains one of the strong foundations of Odu Ifa. (Yoruba mythology) The phoenix was a mythical bird with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends.  It had a five hundred to a thousand-year life-cycle, near the end of which it would build itself a nest of twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The message is that our world never really ends, but always renews itself. It changes. For the better. Evil gives way, and goodness fills the Earth.

These indeed are strange times. Our country, Nigeria has just come out of a most challenging year. Nothing portends that the first few months ahead will provide any palliative. The first quarter of 2012 promises further intimidating challenges – there is Boko Haram to contend with, an increase in kidnapping activity and other security issues, an envisaged national fuel subsidy strike, corruption running riot, a government that seems incapable of confronting all challenges, fretless, a breakdown of our fabric of nationalism, and widespread discontent amidst mass societal impoverishment. But nothing is insurmountable. Truth is, it’s irrelevant if the world ends today, or on December 21st, or whenever. What is important lies within you. This is the turning point of our lives when we each must be honest with ourselves by attempting to answer a few important life questions. Questions like, what have been my achievements in the passing year? What have I done recently to make the world a better place? When last did I give of myself to my community? If you are entrusted with a position of state responsibility, perhaps you may need to be more honest with your answers. Have you made good on all your promises and commitments? Search yourself, and score yourself.  One of my best quotes on final days is this one by Augustine ‘Og’ Mandino, the American author who wrote the book, ‘The Greatest Salesman in the World’ and who died in 1996:

“Live this day as if it will be your last. Remember that you will only find ”tomorrow” on the calendars of fools. Forget yesterday’s defeats and ignore the problems of tomorrow. This is it. Doomsday. All you have. Make it the best day of your year. The saddest words you can ever utter are, ”If I had my life to live over again. ”Take the baton, now. Run with it! This is your day! Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”

As the universal doctrines teach us, ‘amplify your ripples.’ Understand that every action in your life is like a pebble being thrown into a calm pond. The ripples from the pebble will grow and spread outwards. To the extent the pebble represented good character and long term thinking, the ripples will amplify and make your life, the life of your family, the community you are part of and the Universe you live in, a better place. To the extent they come from desperation, fear, helplessness and anger the ripples can become a tidal wave of destruction to who you are, those you love and the world you live in.

A prayer for Nigeria at this point in time, would be apt!

God guide your year!

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Posted in: Essays