There is a lot of hoo-ha about the Mayan ‘long count’ calendar ending in December. It’s supposed to mean the Earth will turn upside-down and all the Australians will have to buy umbrellas and bowler hats while the Brits have barbies on the beach or some such thing. End of the world, perhaps, and good riddance to it.
Actually, the nearest real translation suggests that what the Mayans had planned was the mother and father of all New Year parties. Oh, there would be oblivion all right, and many sore heads in the morning, but like all calendars, theirs would just start again once they’d sobered up.
In Hindu philosophy, we now live in the era called Kali Yuga. Western sandal-clad beardies think this is really, really cool and nice but if you look at an image of Kali, you might notice something. She is standing on a corpse. She has weapons and a severed head in her hands and a necklace made of heads. Her followers used to be called ‘Thuggi’ and it’s no coincidence that the modern term ‘Thug’ is so similar. Kali is very dangerous indeed.
I enjoy discussing the end of the world with the Jehovah’s Witnesses when they call. They regard the United Nations as the many-headed beast of Revelations, you know, and I can definitely see their point. There is also the matter of the discord predicted by Timothy, which is uncanny in its reflection of what is left of society.
I’m not going all religious on you, the point here is a little less direct. The current world is almost universally crap and everyone would like it to be better. It’s no surprise that people look to these ancient texts to seek some hope that the world will improve, all on its own, and that they won’t have to fight for it. We’ve had two World Wars and although not many people have seen both of them (and people my age and older saw neither) we really don’t want another one. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some supernatural agency ready to say ‘It’s okay, it’s all over now, I made the bad things go away’? This will not happen, even if you are religious.
I’m not going to say all religion is nonsense because I don’t know for sure and don’t really care. Can they all be right? There is actually a scenario in which they could be, which I’ll write up one day, but it’s a scenario none of them will like. The various religions do have a lot of things in common though, beyond the usual ‘have a miserable life here and you’ll have a better one when you die, oh and suicide is cheating’. Many of the things they predicted for this world match up between texts, and even if you do have to employ a little bit of vague interpretation here and there, many have come to pass.
I ignore Nostradamus’ drug-fuelled ramblings because I cannot make head nor tail of a single one of his bizarre outbursts.
At the moment, Israel, the people who started the three most popular religions (yes, that one too, Mohammed studied with Jewish priests, remember, and most of the religion stems from Abraham and Moses) are shouting about bombing Iran. When you look at Iran’s leadership, and note that they have, as a country, declared war not on another country but on a couple of people who live there, it is clear that poking Iran is like throwing gravel at a psycho. The response will be out of all proportion to the abuse, and the response is guaranteed.
In fact, the psycho could well retaliate if he thinks you’re about to throw gravel. He might not wait until you do.
The Iranian people don’t want war. The Israeli people don’t want it. No people of any country ever do. However, as one of Hitler’s cohorts (or maybe the Chaplin impersonator himself) once said, it is a simple matter to take people along with you into war. All you need is the threat of invasion, real or imagined. Almost every government in the world has been hyping up the threat of invasion of one sort or another and this world is now a powder-keg rolling towards a bonfire.
Incidentally, why did 1930s Germany vote in a Chaplin impersonator? Was it because they felt he might cheer them up a bit? He didn’t. Perhaps if Nick Griffin fiddled with his tie and said ‘This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into,’ he might get more votes. The moustache would be the same…
So we have the Persian Gulf filling up with warships, openly practising what they’ll do when Iran kicks off. Not if, when. That practice session alone will certainly enrage the evidently unhinged leaders in Iran and Israel’s threats just need to be carried out. They don’t need to be carried out by Israel. If it happens, Israel will get the blame. Every other country on both sides of this fight knows that.
Most Iranians will neither know nor care about those ships. Those that do will only know what their State tells them, like the rest of us. Whichever country you live in, one thing is constant. The State tells you what it wants you to believe.
There is still this matter of the End of the World, or of ushering in a Golden Age or a New World Order. It all sounds the same to me. There are people in positions of power who actually believe it can be done – not by God, but by man. Well, not by the likes of you and me, of course. No, this will be done to us, not for us, by idiots who think they are intelligent because they have money.
It might be that those ancient religious texts have caused their own prophecies to be fulfilled, through the creation of a situation where those who believe have risen to power, since those who don’t believe have always been sidelined. It doesn’t matter which flavour of religion they follow, all of them have a New World Order at the end of the book.
Except one. Those who follow the Satanic ways must surely know that in every religious book out there, the devil gets his arse kicked in the end. Many people claim the world is run by Satanists and maybe it is, I don’t know. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter whether any of the supernatural stuff is real. What matters is when someone in a position of power believes it is.
Aleister Crowley (I read his stuff too, in the interests of equality) came out with the line ‘Do what thou Wilt shall be the Whole of the Law’. This is often wrongly considered to mean ‘Do whatever you like and hang the consequences’. It doesn’t, because he intended it to apply to everyone. It was a Libertarian idea, not a libertine one. He meant that if you want to do something, do it. Don’t sit on your arse talking about it, get up and make it happen. He also made clear that doing things that harm others can have consequences.
Gerald Gardner, the inventor of modern Paganism, modified this to ‘An it harm none, do what you will’, which is a clearer Libertarian statement. Pagans are not Satanists, there is an entirely different set of beliefs involved and far less blood. Crowley couldn’t really be considered a Satanist since he believed he was the Beast 666, and therefore it would have been silly to worship himself. He wasn’t the Beast, as it turned out, since he’s dead and the world hasn’t ended yet.
Satanists have backed the underdog in the religion game. They support the guy whose kingdom is going to get battered and perhaps they believe they can forestall that predicted end somehow.
The point, if there is one, is that all these New World Order change-predictors want different outcomes. There is no concensus on what the Golden Age would be like. For me, it would involve pubs with no juke boxes serving free booze and with an ashtray on every table to tap your no-tax cigarettes into. For others, it would have no pubs, booze or tobacco at all. For them that is Heaven, for me it is Hell. And vice versa.
There can never be a Golden Age for the simple reason that no proposed scenario would please everyone. The new religion of the Green God wants us all back in Mediaeval mud huts, scooping up cow dung and drying it for the fire, while windmills swirl above us mincing birds and providing just enough power to keep the hall light on in the Green Lord’s mansion.
How many people want that particular Golden Age? How many want one with no cars, a return to the days when travelling from the mid-UK to France took a couple of weeks? How many want to go back even to my youth, with a small screen black and white TV that was on for a few hours a day, no such thing as VCR, when CDs were the stuff of ‘Tomorrow’s World’ and computers with less power than calculators occupied entire buildings, twin tub washing machines, cooking ranges built into to the fireplace, and still in many houses (fortunately not ours) outside toilets and a tin bath in front of the living room fire? Hardly anyone had a phone in the house and mobile phones were baked bean cans joined with string.
How many want a Golden Age of free electricity and no wars and doctors who actually treat the problem rather than blaming it on lifestyle? That one isn’t on offer. There is no profit in free power and if nobody is buying bullets or paying into crazy ‘health’ schemes, several party sponsors go bust.
There is a fuse burning low these days, and it looks like it’s going to reach its explosive charge in the Middle East. If not Iran, then maybe Syria will blow. Iraq and Afghanistan are unstable. Many governments in that region are even more deranged than the British one. Our interventions there have not poured oil on troubled waters, they have poured petrol on a fire. Nobody in government has noticed that all of those lost lives, all of that fighting has made things far, far worse for the real people while enriching those at the top. They don’t care. Well, they don’t care about their own people, why would we expect them to care about someone else’s?
Something will happen before the end of the year. The sandalled beards will say it vindicates the prophesies and maybe it will, but it will be like cheering when the car hits the blind man crossing the road. The fulfilment of those old books will not be something to celebrate. Iran does not have the firepower to nuke the West, but they have allies who do. Will the West nuke Iran? When Iran gets under way, it might turn out to be the only way to stop them. And then…
It will not be the end of time, because time began when the universe began and ends when it ends, and the universe doesn’t need us. It will not be the end of this planet, it will continue to roll around its orbit whether we are on it or not. Maybe in a few hundred years, some alien explorers will conclude that there could never have been life here because the whole planet is far too radioactive. So much for the conservationists who want to protect an obscure Amazonian spider.
Everyone is piddling about with trivia. The biggest worry among teenagers in the UK is that they might have an embarrassing photo on Farcebook. At government level, Deputy Dawg Clegg is going on and on about gay marriage as if anyone (including most gay people) give so much as one fleck on the bowl after a vindaloo. Meanwhile the world is burning and nobody is trying to douse the flames, some are fanning them for money and some of us are getting a light and watching the fireworks.
It’s not going to be fixed because nobody is trying to fix it. Those prophecies are going to be self-fulfilling. For the sake of profit, this world is done for and what comes after it will probably glow in the dark. The Golden Age is going to be a dull red ember.
(In an earlier life, I would have gone around town with those ‘The End is Nigh’ sandwich boards on)
What can we do? Nothing. The machine rolls on unheeding and it’s not listening to our warnings. The best course is to enjoy life and watch the madness unfold. Easy for me to say, I know, I won’t have to live through much more of it but I have no advice for the young other than the old religious saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’. Religion was never socialist. It used to help the poor through charity, not taxation, which is why the socialists hate it so much. It also once had the message – if you want it, get off the couch and make it happen. There is no easy way out. God isn’t going to do it all for you.
This world is not for the likes of me. I’ve had half a century of fun and it’s time for younger people to have theirs. There are many Righteous people putting a stop to that fun becasue it’s dangerous now. Well I managed to get through it unscathed as did most of my contemporaries and it was, really, bloody good fun. Still is, although I can’t enjoy it as intensely these days. I’m just glad I had the fun in my youth when I could properly appreciate, if not clearly remember most of it.
So really, there is nothing we older and allegedly wiser ones can do. It’s up to the young and energetic to change the world. They and their children are the ones who will have to live in it, if there is anything left. They can live in the grey Righteous world or they can live in their own construction. They can have a good time or they can watch the bombs go off and dance at the end of time. It is not up to me. It’s up to them.
All I can offer is words and when I was young, I wouldn’t have listened to me either.
(Did anyone get the title reference? It’s the title of a SF writer’s trilogy from a good few years back).