The London Paper – 23 Oct 2008
It was when the hippy chick I was chatting up at the party asked me what my views were on 2012 that I crashed and burned once again. I told her that I thought that the Olympics were likely to go over budget but that overall they were probably a positive for London. She looked at me as if I was a complete Muppet, mumbled something about the world ending in that year and then sidled up to the tattooed blond geezer with the dreadlocks.
It turns out that this lady and a few other characters I’ve spoken to since actually believe that the world will cease to exist on 21 December 2012. They’ve reached this conclusion because the calendars of the long-dead ancient South American civilization, the Mayans, all end on that date. The prevailing theory is that the earth’s magnetic fields will reverse and/or the world will stop spinning. Whatever.
Now, call me old fashioned but I need a bit more proof than some moody ancient calendar before I start maxing out my credit card happy in the knowledge I’ll never have to pay it back. Although a part of me would like to believe this claptrap because it would justify partying non-stop for four years with little fear of the long-term consequences to my health or sanity I can’t quite convince myself that these ancient coke-snorting Columbian nutbags could really predict massive global events with pinpoint accuracy. Hell, we can’t even forecast tomorrow’s weather properly!
As far as I can see the decline in the mainstream religions has opened a Pandora’s Box of beliefs that people nowadays subscribe to willy-nilly. We now comfort ourselves with horoscopes, palm-reading and any other crap that adds some meaning and predictability to this still chaotic life we lead. As the English philosopher G K Chesterton said ‘a man who can’t believe in God is likely to believe in anything’. Our knowledge that, as Thomas Hobbs put it 350 years ago, life is essentially ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’ leads us to seek solace in any preposterous nonsense that we can use as a crutch to help us through the day.
I think we all need to wake up and smell the bacon. The simple fact is that we will all be food for the worms before this century is out and that anything and anyone we love can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to put a downer on things but accepting these basic truths without the need for a crutch is actually liberating – you appreciate more the transitory, fragile beauty of life.
Still, if you want to get laid I’d definitely bone up on all these preposterous beliefs as there seems to be lot of good looking people out there who subscribe to them. If you can’t beat them, you might as well join them, eh?