- Grove City, Pennsylvania


January 11, 2012

Relax, everyone: it's still to early to go negative

T.S. Eliot once wrote that the world will end "not with a bang, but a whimper." But he didn't say exactly how it would occur, or when.

These days, 2012 has become the popular date. And the forms of destruction are varied. The most popular end-of-the-world scenario is probably the one associated with the centuries-old Mayan calendar, which ends on Dec. 21, 2012. The prediction is that the sun's polarity will change, and with it, there goes the neighborhood.

But there are many other apocalyptic scenarios for 2012. Somewhere out there are people warning that a sinister planet (they call it "Planet X") will collide with earth during this calendar year. In India a certain guru called Kalki Bhagavan has promoted 2012 as the "deadline" for human enlightenment Ñ the end of the "degenerate" age.

Whatever that means, it doesn't sound good.

There is also the theory of the "long count," another calendar-inspired doomsday scenario in which the count ... ends.

Others warn us that the red supergiant Betelgeuse (the star, not the movie) will become a supernova in 2012 with disastrous consequences.

Scientists are even getting into the act, somewhat. Physicists are saying that the sun's magnetic field will indeed produce a shockwave of radiation in 2012 that will, if not kill us all, at least damage satellites and power grids.

Are we worried? According to UPI, there are plenty of people worried in the Netherlands. A recent report revealed that thousands in that European country are preparing for the end by stocking up on emergency supplies, including life rafts.

Relax, everybody. Apocalyptic predictions have been around for a long time, and although it's true that some years turn out to be more unfortunate than others, we're all still here. Most of us remember the global warnings that were issued prior to 2000, when tech wizards trumpeted concerns that computers would wreck world commerce by refusing to recognize the new date. There have been many true believers, channeling God, who've pronounced certain dates to be the last day for humankind on Earth, but they've come and gone. More will come, more will go.

As we look back on 2011, we begin to realize why apocalyptic scenarios are so popular just about now. The world economy is struggling, and experts continue worrying about a massive debt implosion.

Global warming scares many. Some worry about there being too many people on this planet to feed, or too few working young people in the U.S. to subsidize Social Security. We still seem no closer to solving our energy shortcomings, and there are still too few jobs. And our leaders appear unable to agree on any long-term solution to anything.

But while all these things may be true, it's far too early to go all negative on 2012. It hasn't even arrived yet. Let us be optimistic at this point, at least, that 2012 will be better than 2011. And let us remember that humanity has not lost its capacity for improvement.

It's time to roll up those sleeves again with this reminder: the future is what we make it.

The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

Published Jan. 7, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

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