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10 days before the world ends, so what are we going to do?

Publication Date : 12-12-2012


There are less than 10 days left for you to celebrate the upcoming holiday season — if you believe in the Mayan prophecy of the apocalypse. On Friday, Dec 21, 2012, we might experience the end of days, like John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Amanda Peet, who barely escaped the “heightened change in the elements” in Roland Emmerich's epic 2012.

Yet, we shouldn't rush to any conclusions. Hiding in the mountains may not be the best move, for such predictions are mostly opportunistic.

If you type “2012” in your Web browser you will be directed to some disturbing pages, like or that feature countdowns and advice for surviving the apocalypse. Such nuggets of assistance include refraining from breathing for a couple of minutes or drinking for a few days. The same websites also propose apocalypse-related business books, survival courses, bunkers and first aid kits ... just in case.

The theories of the end of the world, however, were not an invention of the Internet, nor screenwriters nor Mayans. In the New Testament, John the Apostle, who was one of the first chosen by Jesus Christ to be among his 12 closest followers, envisioned the Apocalypse before the return of Christ on Earth. Some advocates of the end-of-the-world theory were inspired by St. John but they forget that this prediction ends well. God arrives and saves the day.

In the 16th century, Nostradamus, the famous astrologer of the Renaissance, also made some accurate predictions, including the death of Henry II, the rise to power of Napoleon and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More questionably he had a few comments about the end of the world.

If these scenarios make you smile, you should also know that they are equally dangerous. In 1978, James Warren, the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, led its members in a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana that killed 914 people, including 200 children, by cyanide poisoning.

Another problem with such theories of the end of the world is that none of these reputed seers will be there if it really happens. This is why it is better to avoid them. In reality, it's not the apocalypse that should draw our concern. It's the response to the theories, the resulting fatalism and inertia that are our real enemy.

Fatalism is the general view which holds that the story of each individual life is determined by fate. The basic flaw in fatalism, however, is that it tends to associate with nihilism — the belief that nothing has meaning, that nothing can be known, and that nothing we do makes any difference. If nothing is worth living for, it is easy to understand why some people would turn to a rejection of any personal commitment toward family, friends and even society while awaiting the apocalypse.

Equally dangerous, the theories of the end of days imply that our lives are ruled by the principle of inertia, meaning that we are stuck in a rut and at a loss for how to change it. As we become set to our routine and immersed in inertia, we cannot do anything that might force a change in direction until the apocalypse.

To the contrary, we are meant to be challenged regularly. We are meant to have new experiences and push ourselves to the limits — physically, mentally and emotionally. Despite the recurrent theories of the end of days, we need to generate positive momentum through applying enough force to shift directions, to change our state toward our next journey.

For reference, the end of the world has been announced at least 183 times since the fall of the Roman Empire. We are still here. According to one recent prediction, the fall of a giant meteorite should have eliminated all humanity on July 24, 1999. That same year, the French designer Paco Rabanne announced that the Russian space station Mir would crash on Paris on Aug. 11.

If we have 10 days left before the end of the world, we should start thinking today about new ways to change our lives and shift directions, without assuming that half of the world population might disappear beforehand.


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