Centro de Estudios Demográficos, Urbanos y Ambientales

Dr. José Luis Lezama
Profesor-Investigador / Professor -Researcher
Director del Seminario Interdisciplinario sobre Estudios Ambientales y del Desarrollo Sustentable / Director of the Interdisciplinary Seminar on Environmental and Sustainable Development


End of the world


End of the World
José Luis Lezama

A world angst seems to touch some of the most sensitive fibers of the current post-industrial society, especially from some of the most developed, a collective affliction with great social resonance, a collective affliction with great social, resonance, what is strange in full technological domain, in full modernity, when science is proud of  its progress and its domination and subjugation of the natural world. So much has spread panic among some sectors of American society as NASA, the main source of authority in the modern interpretation of the universe, has been on the need to clarify, conclusively, that there is not such end of the world and that the planet looks strong and vigorous and that the Maya Long Count calendar of 5125 years, which will conclude on December 21, 2012, does not mean more than the end of a cycle started in 3114 BC and the beginning of a new one . There is nothing in the observable universe that anticipates a catastrophic cosmic alignment, a mysterious planet to collide our planet, no black hole waiting to devour the solar system; nothing to fear, nothing to justify the collective mental disturbance that seems to have infected even areas of the former Soviet empire. Meanwhile, just "in case", hundreds of troubled people in this world in crisis have chosen the French city of Bugarach, at the foot of the Pyrenees, to avoid the disaster, waiting to be chosen for eternal salvation and enter and the kingdom of God announced.
The absence of a real threat of an apocalyptic end, as they repeatedly pursued the Christian world does not mean it is irrelevant to talk about an end of the world. The factors behind this belief or myth survive any philosophical, religious or scientific explanation. Even the fact that the world has survived the hundreds of prophecies announcing its demise has not removed the need people have of an apocalyptic end of the world. So it can not be confined to the absurd or irrational. If the same kind of absurd, says Levi-Strauss, referring to the myth, is repeated again and again, and other absurd idea appears anywhere else, it means that is not really an absurd feeling at all.
The Maya would not have needed to convince NASA that their Long Count calendar, had nothing to do with any end of the world. When they world was about to collapse in the tenth century, also concluded their accounts and records of the universe: double death, of their time and their culture.  The Mayan, in full age of stone, without the modern instruments which the NASA has, with the simple resource of his comprehensive look, could decipher part of the vast universe, registered exactly the cycles of the Earth, the Moon, Venus and Mars, and sought to adjust their lives, their rituals, their agricultural cycles, alignment and order of their cities, according to celestial rhythms.
 But the Maya were not inexperienced on doomsday, cataclysms and other atrocities, what they have suffered at different times, either among the ninth and tenth centuries when they left the cities of the classic period, or in the time of the Spanish conquest, or what their contemporary descendants have lived: the impact and destruction of progress, the Guatemalan military, or the neglect, looting and harassment they face in Mexican territory.
For some students the end of the world is rather a necessary myth, a belief that allows to the humanity to question his values and practices of life, to think about the possibility of a better world, a new paradise to which only one will be able to gain access by means of the atonement of faults and sins, of the purification that offers the catastrophe. The apocalypse would express the subliminal elimination of the evil, of an unjust order, of a world corroded by the poverty, the corruption and the discredit. It is born not only of the economic crisis, but especially of the moral crisis. Somehow it liberates energies, produces hope and mitigation.
In the vicinity of the first millennium Christian Europe was given the task of cleaning up the world, to make an earthly purification to prepare the coming of Christ. It was therefore proposed infidels cleaning, removing the same to Muslims, Vikings and to the warlike Hungarian hordes. Near the year one thousand fear doomsday had gripped Europe (B. McGinn). The crisis in the world today seems to encourage a new edition of the apocalypse. Million inhabitants of the planet endure famine, the poverty reigns in vast territories, even of the developed world, and the rulers and the economic and political elites seem increasingly reluctant to share power and wealth, a request of moral cleanliness, of a new Armagedon seems to take possession increasingly of a world exhausted in his promises and unable to meet the needs and the most basic hopes. (This article was originally published by Reforma, December 15, 2012). www.joseluislezama.com

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