Some believe a Mayan prophecy means the world will end later this month; but according to one history professor, you should pay your bills and keep your house. Based upon that advice, you should also study for finals.
History professor David Williard said Americans have interpreted the Mayan calendar to show that the world will be destroyed on Dec. 21, 2012, the last day of finals for St. Thomas students.
Williard said it’s hard for us to interpret what the Mayans meant.
“Remember, the Mayans have been unable to defend their point of view for the past 800-900 years,” Willard said. “It’s up to us to create produce a narrative, inevitably when we do that, we kind of see things through our lens rather than an authentic Mayan lens.”
Junior Jake Nelson isn’t concerned about the prediction, and said he intends to study for finals as planned.
“My thoughts are that it’s just based on theory, and I don’t actually think it’s going to happen,” Nelson said. “There is a lot of scientific data saying that it’s going to happen, but I think it’s too far gone.”
Williard said today’s sense of time may be completely different than the Mayans’.
“We assume everyone sees time in a linear progression, the way that biblical tradition does,” Williard said. “That time has a beginning, humanity in the world is created, and that time will have an end. Well, not every culture believes that.”
Freshmen Chris Lengeling and Pat Flaherty joked about how they plan to resist the apocalypse.
“Pat built an underground bunker to ward off the Mayan zombies. We’ve been watching the ‘Walking Dead’ for the last three seasons,” Lengeling said.
Freshman Brian Bustrom said some people are seriously invested in the idea that the end is near.
“I worked with a guy this summer whose father actually bought a cabin for Y2K, and he’s fixing that cabin up for 2012,” Bustrom said.
Williard said he is skeptical about the world ending on Dec. 21, because there have been numerous end-of-the-world predictions for the past 150 years.
“I think just looking at the U.S. for example, in 1843, William Miller founded a very popular overnight sensation that predicted the world would end in 1843,” Williard said. “In 1925, we predicted the world would end again. And Y2K, the destruction of all technology that would bring about another kind of apocalypse.”
Williard said recent predictions have fallen short like in May 2011, but humans remain on the earth.
“If the Mayans are right, I guess we’ll find it out in a couple weeks,” Williard said. “I’m putting my money on that we’ll all be here on Dec. 27. So, pay your credit card bill and don’t sell your house.”
Stephanie Dodd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.