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December 16, 2012

Question:  What are we to make of the end of the Mayan calendar, some marking it as the coming end of the world?

The media report that doomsday believers are stocking up on supplies to escape the end of the world scheduled on the Mayan calendar for December 21st. But short of an asteroid striking the earth, it is certain that the world will still be here. The fears and anxieties over the Mayan calendar are based on at least three misunderstandings: first, what the Mayans themselves say about their own calendar; second, religious language; third, Divine Providence.  

First, the Mayans had three types of calendars. The one that is creating current interest is called “The Long Count” or “The Great Cycle.”  It is a universal cycle based on 5,125 years. We have to remember that in some cultures there is no beginning and end to time; time is measured in very long cycles. The Mayan calendar is an expression of this view. Now, Mayan elders have never said that the end of the Great Cycle means the physical end of the world. The white man jumped to this conclusion.

But it does signify a major shift, a significant turning-point in human history. In Bahá’í terms, it signifies the end of an old world order and the gradual, but nonetheless catastrophically punctuated transition to a new world order. This transition signifies the emergence of  world-consciousness, and the realization that the peoples of the world constitute one people under one God. 

Second, in some languages—New Testament Greek for example—the word for “world” and “age” is the same word. Eon means both world and age. So we could translate “end of the age” instead of  “end of the world.” Third, Divine Providence always keeps His promises. This is part of God’s great covenant with humanity. The scriptures of all the world great religions share the common promise of the Great Day of Peace that will come. The world chaos that we are witnessing virtually daily is accomplishing the necessary tearing down of  all the dysfunctional, antiquated barriers that are preventing the gradual implementation of world peace. The end of the world would prevent the Divine Plan of  universal peace from being realized. It can be delayed but ultimately not prevented.  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen December 16, 2012
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