There have been films written about it, predictions made about it and people around the world have been preparing for it for hundreds – if not thousands – of years. The Apocalypse is a perpetual theme in mankind’s existence. But why should we be so determined that the world will end during our lifetime and why are we so obsessed with being able to pinpoint the actual event?
Apocalypse Beliefs From Around The World
Apocalypse predictions come around with unfailing regularity, but they are not a modern phenomenon. The early Christians believed that Christ gave a definite date for the end of the world; the Book of Revelations gives an account of God’s plan for mankind. Many interpretations of the text suggested that the Apocalypse would be brought about in the year 2000. Across the world, there were fears of mass suicides from ‘Millennium Cultists’. In Greenwich and Jerusalem extra security forces were brought into play to prevent these anticipated events. However, 2000 came and went, the Apocalypse didn’t happen (again) and the world kept on turning.
Probably the most famous Apocalypse predictions are from the Ancient Mayans, in which 2012 was identified as the year in which we were all to meet our respective makers. The belief was that the Mayans gods had already tried and tested three versions of mankind and failed in each. On August 11, 3114BC, it seems that they finally got the formula right and let us loose on the Earth. However, according to Mayan mythology, a creation such as man has a specific lifespan of 5,126 years before it collapses and makes way for another attempt. This incarnation is seen as man’s fourth and the date set for its final implosion is December 21st 2012.
According to research from the journal, Psychology Today, 85% of Muslim Shiites believe in the reappearance of a 12th imam who vanished in the 9th Century. He is thought to appear sometime in the 21st Century and bring with him the Muslim version of the Apocalypse. In Japan, the group Aum Shinrikyo have embraced the Christian beliefs surrounding the Book of Revelations and the apocalyptic predictions from Nostradamus. This group has recently been declared as a terrorist organisation after a series of attacks on world and religious leaders, through which they hope to engender the end of the world and actively fulfil the various predictions on which their belief is founded.
Even the Native American Indians have their own version of Apocalypse belief. The Ghost Dance, still practiced today, is founded on the belief that if all the Native Americans of the west dance the dance, they will hasten the end of the world and all evil will be swept away.
The Destruction Of Evil
The theme of the destruction of evil seems to be a very strong factor in why we are obsessed with the notion of an apocalypse. As the 21st Century gathers momentum and technology becomes integral to our existence, we are becoming more and more aware of the cost to the planet. However, it appears to be more than just an environmental issue; wars are being fought over oil, the prices of gas and fossil fuels are rocketing and only those in power seem to benefit. In addition, our hunger for violence seems to be growing; we are constantly developing new weapons, inventing new and more creative ways to hurt each other and countries are being invaded without troubling the newspaper headlines.
The Global Temperature
If there was a thermometer with which you could take the temperature of the general population of the world, it would be pretty high at the moment. Not only do we seem to be letting each other down, but even our elected leaders and politicians are being exposed as corrupt and self-serving. Jobs are scarce, the global economy is in tatters and parts of the world are suffering famines that go ignored by the rest of us. All the ingredients for the Apocalypse, regardless of your religion, seem to be bubbling away quite nicely. In many ways, it would be a relief for mankind as a whole to somehow reset the clock, wipe the slate clean and start all over again. Many regard the idea of an Apocalypse as a second chance, as we seem to be burning our bridges as a global nation.
Our Place On Earth
Spiritually, there may be another reason for obsession with the end of all things. Many believe that the Earth is an extension of ourselves, rather like a dreamscape that we have created, reflecting our collective inner state. We are all aware that our lives are finite and, as we get older, we become more aware of our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, as though the parameters set by our mortality suddenly creates an awareness of all that we have done and all that we have yet to do.
If we see the Earth as an extension of ourselves, then the notion that it too has a finite existence may be what we need, as its inhabitants, to facilitate positive change in the global community. By setting dates for our total destruction, it’s as though we are making each tick of the universal clock louder and more resonant; as we perceive our time running out, we are more inclined to focus on what is truly and spiritually important in the world.
Too much of our lives are spent simply trying to cope; we have to earn money to pay bills, to buy food and to buy those things that we desire. However, the one thing we cannot buy is time and by putting a deadline to our existence we are forced to re-evaluate exactly what we are doing with our lives. It may be possible that the fervent need to know when things are going to end is less of a global death-wish and more part of a desire for things to change, whilst we are all still alive to see it. Although the minutiae of our lives seek to drag us down, spiritually, people are, in essence, good. But it is only the ticking of a self-imposed clock that allows us to realise this.