sunlight by Andria Thompson.

In 2012 the end of the world is nigh. Just before Christmas 2012, apparently. It's that time of the decade once again, we're overdue a fresh round of global wipeout. And who says so? The Mayans, by all accounts. An ancient civilization that occupied large tracts of Central America, from around 1800BC until environmental change, over population and the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores some 2000 thousand years later caused their societal collapse.

The Mayan were a culturally rich people, gifted with architecture, mathematics and astrological understanding. During their cultural growth, they found a way to track time, by way of a rather complex calendar system. It's a part of that system that's currently being hawked in seminars, books and across the internet, to promote the latest end of the world predictions.

Forgive me for being cynical but 2012 is the end of the world? First, I rather hope not. And second let's check the stats. From the time that we, as a species, discovered how to 'spread the word', we've actually got pretty good at it. Particularly when it comes to the proliferation of bad news. I'd go as far as saying we're positively expert at it. We embrace bad news with open arms.

And that's why bad news spreads like wild-fire. Regardless of the source, if it's doom and gloom, we want a slice. Heck, give me a double helping. Regarding the 2012 prophecies, I think we're onto dessert. Despite the fact that no one has anything tangible to bring to the table, we're still swallowing up the demise of life as we know it like it's on sale at Wal-Mart.

The fact is (and there are quite a few) the Mayans didn't predict anything. The famed Mayan calendar was created as a means of tracking time. It wasn't constructed for the sole purpose of predictions and prophecies. There's no doubt that the long count calendar was used to forecast crop sowing and yielding and other similar cultural and/or natural events. But the Mayans weren't prophetic by nature.

They were definitely superstitious; they believed in a myriad of different Gods. However there's no relation between their superstitious beliefs and the 2012 end of the world prophecies. There's no doubt that the calendar ends. Much in the same way that our Gregorian calendar does. And granted, our calendar does not last for 5,125.36 years.We generally take things year by year. Call us modern, but we like yearly time spans.

The Mayan calendar ends because the specified time line is simply 5,125.36 years. And here's a little secret: It just starts all over again. It's worth bearing in mind that any form of narrative relating to the 2012 end of the world predictions generates money. Check out bookstores, search online - listen to the news. Someone, somewhere, has an opinion on it. And don't think for one minute that their opinions are given for free.

Bearing all the above in mind, I think it's safe to say that we don't need to build an underground backyard bunker just yet. Life on earth will, at some point, cease to exist. But not because an ancient culture allegedly said so. As far as I'm concerned, I'm erring on the side of veracity. Plus, I rather like living on the third rock from the sun. I remain hopeful that it will still be here come 2013.

In closing, here's a little perspective: past and present, there are currently in excess of 200 similar predictions. And counting.

I like to balance facts with reason and treat rumor with an open mind. Whilst I'm not in the business of being a professional cynic, I do try to err on the side of factual information. The Mayan prophecies are a growing source of confusion and the Mayan calendar right along with it.

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