In six months, we’ll know. Either the world will end, or the Mayan 2012 prophecies will be put to rest. Perhaps both.
But six months is a long time, and for years the steady crawl towards 2012 has sunk into the public consciousness. It’s not just the occasional doomsayer or “prophet,” either.
TV shows, movies — even commercials have played a significant role in spreading the idea that 2012 is “the year the world ends.”
Most of it’s tongue-in-cheek, sure, but according to some scientists, even the simple idea of a looming apocalypse can be harmful to certain individuals.
Consider the Heaven’s Gate suicides in 1997, during the Hale-Bopp comet’s pass near Earth. They believed a UFO was trailing the comet, and would take them away from our doomed planet.
Last year, a 14-year-old Russian girl committed suicide in response to a prediction that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011.
And just last month, a 16-year-old girl in the UK also committed suicide after doing “extensive research on the Internet about Doomsday predictions.” She was convinced the world would end this year.
“…two parents…said they were planning to kill themselves and their children on or before December, because they believed the end was near.”
Can we blame the predictions themselves? I’m not sure, but according to psychologist Donna Kashani, the ones most affected by these end times “prophecies” are the children. They hear these claims, often spoken seriously, and they get scared. And, as the above examples point out, sometimes they take drastic measures to avoid that “end.”
I’m not one to talk, of course. I think the end of the world is a topic worth discussing, even if it’s just out of curiosity or some kind of morbid entertainment. The world is going to end, anyway. Someday. Probably not today, probably not tomorrow, probably not in December.
But in billions of years, when that bright star at the center of our solar system begins to shine a little brighter…
We shouldn’t take the end times too seriously, though. If it ends, it ends. No need to rush it, and no amount of prepping will help in the event of some kind of biblical cataclysm.
We should, however, consider the effect all this doom and gloom may have on children — both those who are afraid, and those who must suffer for their parents’ own delusions.
Image courtesy Bill McChesney.