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Well, We Made It!

January 2013 By MARGARET BATTISTELLI GARDNER
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"Maybe this is what the Mayans predicted. Not an asteroid, or a solar flare, but the end of what we are. We no longer cherish life, or other people, even the earth or the animals & resources put on it. War, genocide, abuse, senseless mass murder, animal cruelty, gluttony, greed … look around you. The end of the world is already here."

It was very early on a dreary morning a few days before a particularly difficult Christmas when my friend Darla posted that on her Facebook page. Given that we were just less than a week out from the horrific events that took place in Connecticut on Dec. 17, it was hard to argue. I had intended to get up bright and early and get a jump start on my day. But I read that and suddenly felt the need to go back to bed.

If you're reading this, the physical end of the world did not come on Dec. 21. Just like it did not come on May 21, 2011, or Oct. 21, 2011, or Sept. 6, 1994. So many everyday people, scientists, media outlets and pundits of all stripes misunderstood or misrepresented the implications of the Mayan calendar that supposedly predicted the end of the world. History that old is kind of difficult to decipher, after all. Plus it made for lots of sensational headlines and gave the Doomsday crowd plenty to keep itself busy.

But what little educated consensus there seemed to be about the date points to the conclusion that the Mayans defined human civilization in terms of great shifts and that Dec. 21, 2012, supposedly reflected the beginning of another great shift. Nowhere does any Mayan calendar predict the end of the world. If anything, it was supposed to be a new beginning — but not one that the world had to be obliterated in order to happen. More of a cosmic thing than a physical one.

 

So I thought maybe my friend Darla is right. Maybe the shift had come, and it wasn't for the good. But 30 minutes more sleep and a cup of strong coffee later, and I remembered the world in which I work — the world of the fundraisers, the world of getting things done and making things better. It's impossible to be this close to the heart of the nonprofit world and let gloom and doom take over my outlook. So I'm going with the other explanation of the Dec. 21, 2012, theory, the one that says the shift somehow moved us toward a more compassionate and enlightened state of civilization. Or, who knows? Maybe the Facebook memes are right and the guy carving the calendar just ran out of stone. ("Man, that's gonna freak somebody out someday.")

 

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