EDITORIAL: End of days put on hold

Dec. 21 came and went, with no ill effects on Earth's existence

If you’re reading this in print, then the world didn’t come to an end today.

And you still have a few more days to shop before Christmas.

The doomsday scenario, believed by some to have been predicted by the Mayan civilization more than 5,100 years ago, is just the latest example of people letting fear get in the way of their capacity for common sense.

Some folks have been dreading Dec. 21 for years. Are people simply that unable or unwilling to consider that maybe this highly advanced civilization just didn’t see the need to create a new calendar?

Historical experts familiar with the Mayan system of recording time say the new model would have the same characters – what we call numbers – as the one that has just expired, kind of like a car’s odometer rolling over.

Astronomers who can see everything around Earth, even light years away, would clearly have known whether our tiny planet was in the pathway of some rogue planet, meteor or giant asteroid, likely years in advance. No warnings came.

Yet a quoted opinion poll indicated that roughly one in 10 Americans (we couldn’t find an equivalent Canadian poll) had real fears that something dreadful would happen today.

There’s a lot of similarities between the hysteria around the year 2000 and the end-of-days scenario. Twelve years ago, however, the people who felt there was a very real chance the world would grind to a halt – over computers’ supposed inability to read a year with two zeros at the end – had relatively little proof to convince them otherwise.

We all know how that turned out: nary a blip was seen on the landscape.

No doubt fewer people were taken in by the idea the world would end than feared the consequences of the new millennium. But the snake-oil salesmen have nonetheless been busy whipping fearful people into a frenzy, regardless if what they were selling made little sense upon further investigation.

Thank goodness most of us stuck around to see what happens next.