|May 21st, 2011. The End of the World... again...|
|Written by Taty Sena|
By Taty Sena
For the past few weeks, New York City has been covered in advertisement announcing May 21st, 2012 as the end of the world. Most of that has been paid for by Robert Fitzpatrick, a 60-year-old Staten Island resident, who has spent $140,000 of his savings to purchase over 1000 ads around town.
He is not alone. Hundreds of believers are distributing pamphlets and carrying signs all over the country.
The May 21, 2011 end of the world idea was proposed by 89 year old Harold Camping, owner of a Christian radio network, who has announce the end of the world before, in 1994 (yeap, we are still here), and whose usual approach is to take passages of the bible to justify his predictions.
What fascinates me the most about the "end of the World" predictions is how often they happen and how many people see them as valid. In my short lifetime (I'm in my 30's), the world has already ended several times:
- Pat Robertson predicted the end of the world would happen in 1982.
- Astronomers John Gribben & Stephen Plagemann predicted the 'Jupiter Effect", where planets would align on the same side as the sun and massive earthquakes and solar flares would destroy the world.
- The Sheperd's Chapel predicted armageddon would happen on June 8th, 1985.
- Endless Nostradamus followers have predicted the end of the world for several dates between 1985 and 2000.
- The millennium has brought at least 10 predictions of the end of the world for the year 2000. Many later changed their dates to 2001 when they realized the new millennium only really started January 1st, 2001. An interesting fact is that the date was only significant in the western world, since other parts of the world use a different calendar. Does that mean that only the western world would end?
- The newest fad seems to be the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans. It is scheduled to happen on December 21st, 2012. The end of the Mayan calendar.
My first "End of the World" experience was hearing about the prophecies of Saint Fatima, which were made popular in the 1980's and that predicted the end of the world around the 1990's. As a child I found the idea terrifying, and went as far as writing politician about the danger. Some of them, probably feeling sorry for this 8 or 9 year old child who seemed so scared, even wrote back. That experience allowed me to understand how convincing some of these stories can be to gullible minds. But what could explain the large number of capable adults who fall for these stories? Why is it that instead of looking for words of encouragement, growth, love, compassion, people prefer to spend time looking for quotes that would signify the death of everyone? Why is it that the idea that God would vengefully kill millions of people and send them to hell for eternity if they don't follow a particular church seems reassuring to some people? Are their lives so empty that the end of it all seems like a good option? Do they want to trust that their beliefs are right so desperately that they wish misery and suffering for everyone else as a way of proving themselves?
What I've observed while trying to answer these questions, is that people's God is based on who they are deep inside. Those full of love and compassion view God as an all embracing entity, who brings peace and love to the world, and who teaches people to love one another. People who are insecure, have a desperate need to prove that their God is better than everyone else's and that those who don't share their beliefs will suffer for eternity. Those who are angry tend to spread words of hatred, discrimination, and justify them with a vengeful, egotistical and self indulgent God who will cause you pain for eternity for any signs of doubt or misbehaviour.
People are sold those ideas by leaders who interpret their religions based on their own human flaws. Many have a self entitled attitude that allows them to sell themselves as the "chosen ones", and that only by following them can you find eternal happiness. They are the ones who tell you they have a personal line with God, and you aren't good enough to make decisions without them. Many times that is followed by a request for monetary support to their ideas.
It is very important to know who to follow when making spiritual decisions, because, often, you will find the teacher you are looking for. The one that reflects what you already carry inside. A good teacher can help you explore your own humanity and become a better person. A greedy one can poison your mind and fill it with delusion, anger and fear.
So we know that May 21st will come and go... another prophecy will end in excuses to allow people not to take responsibility for our planet and for each other. Not to look deep inside and try to figure out why the idea of ending it all seems appealing. It would be interesting to know what they see when they look in the mirror on May 22.
PS: And if I'm wrong I won't be here to have to explain my mistake, so it's all good either way