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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Will the world just end already?

    For some, New Year’s revelry was tinged with a grim realization: 2012 is also the last year the human race will see. For years now there has been talk of Dec. 21, 2012. This is the last day of the Mayan calendar, a timekeeper so surprisingly accurate that many believe the only possible explanation for it ending on this date is that afterward there will be nothing left of humanity for the calendar to chronicle.

    The concept has already been turned into a big-budget film, “2012,” which depicts the world ending. If Hollywood has weighed in, then surely there’s nothing left to do but enjoy our remaining year and, when the day arrives, kiss our loved ones goodbye and hope our exit is painless.

    Or not. Historically, the world is facing its ultimate demise all the time. In the year 999 A.D., Catholics waited with trepidation for Pope Sylvester II, the first French pontiff, to hand over all of Christendom to the devil at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31. A brave few actually attended a midnight mass he presided over, but many others across Europe climbed their closest mountain to get a scenic view of Earth’s destruction.

    Then in 1999, exactly 1,000 years later, the human race braced itself for computers unable to switch over to the next millennium and the carnage this flaw would surely reap. In Bisbee, Ariz., the leading men of the community gathered in key places, such as the courthouse and the post office, to establish a visible network for its denizens in case of the apocalypse.

    In 2011, Harold Camping said Judgment Day would be on May 21, only to be forced to revise his declaration and postpone our total destruction.

    With all the forecasting of the end of the world over the years, it seems apocalypse watching is more of a pastime than anything else. What does that say about humanity, a species that turns its own total destruction into a hobby? Humans are inherently fearful of death and for reasons that are not totally illogical.

    Death is, perhaps, the last great mystery. We know more about the distant corners of the universe than we will likely ever know about death. Our individual demise is a reality that we generally do not live with comfortably, and the eventual death of all humanity is that much less comfortable for us. So why do we insist on seeing it around every corner?

    Perhaps it’s to give us a feeling of control. If we know the date and the hour, so to speak, we can get our affairs in order, or at the very least be able to say “I told you so” to those who didn’t have our foresight.

    The best solution to this apocalypse-mongering is not to engage in it. There’s nothing to be done about our individual or collective deaths aside from accepting its inevitability and moving forward. Or the next best thing to do is to look at this unending chain of predictions irreverently. College students can be heard making wry quips about spending their entire life in school, and if word of mouth can be trusted, Dec. 21 may be one of the biggest party days on record.

    If we have to wrangle with the headache that is the apocalypse, then, as with so many other things, laughter is probably the best medicine.

    — Andrew J. Conlogue is a junior studying philosophy, politics, economics and law. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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