2012: An Earthly Odyssey

Imagined doomsday, one more reason not to pat the bomb ...

This is the way the world ends, not with a whimper but a bang-up. That's what a man in Kentucky, US, thought :.till he collided with the law. Collecting explosive materials, he had reportedly turned bomb-maker at home. Why? Come 2012, his loved ones needed saving. Blame it on him watching the Hollywood blockbuster, 2012, whose world is less maya than Mayan.It depicts cataclysmic events inspired by a supposed ancient Mayan 'prediction' about the end of the world. Solar flares, earthquakes, avalanches, cyclones, the mega-movie unleashes every disaster imaginable, amplified to monster-size by special effects. Who can forget the city of Los Angeles crumbling into the Pacific? Or the White House hit by a swallow-all tsunami? It's doom maro doom all right.

Scientists to New Age writers, many have studied an old Mayan "Long Count" calendar. Some say it foretells a new era following the close of a major "time cycle". Others insist it fore­ casts

doomsday: in devastated 2012, there'll be nowhere to run. Yet, on the big screen, run they do, humans being all too human. Politicians build "arks" in secret. Ordinary mortals try to save (ex) wives, kids, buddies, flying from trying plains into volcanic fire. Now, taking reel-life
for real, our seismically impacted Kentucky man had an 'explosive' idea. To beat
upcomingnature'sfury,mass riots and the collapse of civi­ lisation, you armed yourself. That's why, he's said to have told federal agents, he'd gone weapons-grade. No sir, he and his family wouldn't go gently into apocalyptic night, only to get Kentucky fried.

Hmmm...don't world leaders follow the same philosophy? Whereas Kentucky's family man, they say, is headed for jail for being a clear and combustibledanger, ruling politiciansthe world over compete in amassing weapons of mass destruction. Patting the bomb, they're even applauded for projected machismo. Size does matter, with warheads, mushroom clouds and military-in­ dustrial complexes.Haven't world netas got their version of 'fam­ ily' to save-for, what is 'country' but extended family? It'salways politically useful to say one's compatriots are under threat, be it from 'enemies of the nation', Martians or phantom WMD. That's howwag-the-dogwars are justified and the warrior ethic issancti­fied. Defence budgets, arms-dealers' bank accounts and WMD stockpiles alsofatten up nicely. A battle for thelucrative bulge.

Only, there are smarter waysto tackle myriad 2012s-natural or man-made catastrophes-whose outward destructiveforce is a metaphor for the violence within.If world-wrecking wars bring gloom and doom, pursue peace. If no nuke is good news, turn arms race into competitive disarmament. If global warming threatens to microwave the planet, serve up earth conservation. If great floods, T-Rex typhoons and crash-landing asteroids cock a snook at human certitudes, gain perspective, think compassion and perfect post-hazard relief delivery. And, to all end-of-days narratives of pessimism and defeatism, oppose the optimism of the human-and, certainly, terrestrial-capacityfor renewal.

Hollywood's 2012, you'll remember, ends with survivors' arks sailing towards the Cape of Good Hope!See? Worldsend.Worlds begin.The dud here is the bomb.