| by Bharat Hiteshi
( December 20, 2012, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) Recently I watched a film, “Oh My God”, that satirises religious beliefs. Based on a Gujarati play, “Kanji Virudh Kanji” or an Australian film “The Man who sued God”, the film mocked at us for our unending superstitions.
I thought that doomsayers were confined only to our land till I received a panic call from my cousin settled in London who said the end of the world was near as the Mayan calendar that begun in 3114 BC comes to an abrupt halt on December 21, 2012. The Mayas had developed an advanced society that featured large cities built around stepped pyramids and they excelled in mathematics and astronomy. The calendar-obsessed Mayas, with their incredibly accurate calculations without the help of calculators, computers or telescopes, were able to determine the length of a lunar month to be 29.53020 days. The actual length is 29.53059 days. The precise manner of rumour predicts a catastrophic celestial collision between the earth and the mythical planet, Nibiru.
He continued that panic-buying of candles and essentials had been reported in many parts of the world with an explosion in the sales of survival shelters. Some believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them. And they are not alone. A poll by Ipsos, a global market research company with worldwide headquarters in Paris, recently found that one in seven persons believes the world will end during their lifetime. The same poll suggests that one in 10 people experienced fear and anxiety about the eschatological implications of Friday. To no one’s surprise, fans of Nostradamus, considered as “The man who saw tomorrow”, have also jumped on the 2012 band wagon.
The US space agency, NASA, itself has waged a campaign of facts to combat fear-mongering, debunking the doomsday theories. The space agency has published detailed rebuttals of five separate a pocalyptic scenarios on its website, including a meteor strike, a solar flare-up and the so-called polar shift saying that magnetic reversals do take place approximately every 400,000 years but these do not cause any harm to life on the earth. Also any magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia.
That night I could not sleep, wondering why such rumours erupt time and again. Earlier the end of the world was predicted on May 21, 2011. And I found the answer in my dreams that since the beginning of human history, people have yearned for a world of peace, righteousness and justice. Time and time again they have placed their hopes in politicians who have promised them the moon, and time and time again their hopes have been dashed. I realised that if such rumours work in the direction of bringing some morality among people, propelling them to shed corrupt ways, stop crime against fellow human beings to become good citizens, then even these rumours should be welcomed.
Shakespeare rightly said in “Measure for Measure” that “virtue is bold and goodness never fearful”. Let us learn to love as only love can bridge the gulf between nations, between man and man and between man and nature, and shed all fears.