I recently had a dream in which I was explaining to someone that the so-called “end of the world” actually gives me substantial hope for the future. I am not some fatalist who wishes for the end of the world just to be done with it all. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m a happy-go-lucky optimist who looks at life though rose-colored glasses.
What I refer to that gives me hope is an interpretation of the Mayan calendar which I have heard is the most accurate interpretation. What this particular interpretation gets at is that 2012 is not the end of the world, but simply a new beginning; it is to be a moment of transformation and rejuvenation for the Earth and all in it, and that is what gives me hope for the future, because what the world needs now more than ever is transformation. Sometimes what I really think we need is just to press some sort of reset button.
Humanity has done an almost immeasurable amount of damage to the environment and to itself. Global warming is running rampant, proof of the irreversible damage we are doing to the ozone layer. Yet, in spite of the signs the Earth is giving us, we continue contaminating the air, using up all the Earth’s non-renewable resources in the process. Massive deforestation and other exploitative practices which abuse what the Earth has given to us cause harm to plant, animal, and human life. The Earth has suffered much abuse at our hands.
Many sit back and complacently let their governments torture political prisoners. Too many people are malnourished, are without adequate housing, have to fight each and every day for their families’ survival. Wealth and power are increasingly accumulated in the pockets of a smaller and smaller group of individuals while the masses cry out for change. Women’s rights, children’s rights, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, and many other fundamental rights are abused every day.
Wars continue to rage all over the world, in spite of supposed peace processes which are taking place. Violence continues to dominate streets, homes, and schools. Structural violence perpetuating poverty and other injustices often go unchallenged, especially by those in power, and the powers that be continue perpetuating a so-called “justice” system that commits grave injustices against the marginalized of the world.
The US budget is on the verge of collapse, yet Republicans and Democrats don’t seem to be able to agree enough on things like whether to cut military expenditures or social services and whether or not taxes should be cut or raised for the extremely wealthy (here’s a helpful hint to the Republican party: it is always best to choose peace and justice over war and injustice, and the rich have too much money and stuff to care about what truly matters – so says a marginalized, somewhat “socialist” carpenter from the political fringe who many of them claim to have a personal relationship with but never really follow, named Jesus Christ).
I think it’s fairly safe to say that the world is in quite a shambles right now and desperately needs the Mayan New Age of transformation and rejuvenation. However, this new world isn’t going to build itself, and the work certainly isn’t going to be easy. We must all cooperate, practicing what Judaism calls tikkun olam, picking up the pieces of the broken and hurting world and putting them back together again. We are mutually responsible, and can change this world for the better, if only we are willing to struggle for it.
The Mayan calendar’s New Age gives me hope, because it reminds me a better world is possible for those who are willing to claim responsibility for it, construct it, and live it.