As December 21, 2012 approaches, there are a few who await the end of the world, and many more who dismiss such thoughts as being silly, and others who just hope that nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary happens.
Is the end of the world such a bad thing? And what would it mean? Certainly, massive cataclysms and terrible destruction would cause immense suffering to people, to animals, and to the earth. Suffering on any scale is a bad thing, and whether or not any good comes out of it, we all seek to avoid it.
There have been cataclysms both recently and in the past, and one can only suppose that there may be more to come – with or without an end to the world. Perhaps there will be an intensity of disasters, we have no way to know.
But what if the end of the world also has another meaning? As we all realize, we live in a world that, at the very least, has many flaws, and at the worst, is a realm of extreme suffering for many beings.
What if the world and all of history, as far as we know it, is like a vast carpet being unrolled and stretched out? Now we have come to the end of the unrolling, and it is time for it to be rolled back up again – to go back to the beginning?
All the myths of the world tell of ages in the far, remote recesses of time, that were not mundane and prosaic, but that instead were magical, that sparkled with life and positivity. Of course, being “rational, modern people,” we dismiss these myths as being pre-scientific, irrational, and based on superstition.
The truth is though, only some of us dismiss these myths as mythical. There are those among us who, though we may not always say so publicly, hold a radically different view. Some of us, though we may not openly acknowledge it, do believe in magic, in miracles, in the mystical, in the visions and dreams of ages long past when the world was not boring, not prosaic, not humdrum, not filled with conflict and degradation – not, in fact, increasingly cruel and distasteful.
What if this great carpet, when it has rolled out to its end, simply begins to roll back up again?
For example, what if, instead of disappearing from the face of the earth, all the great forests begin to grow back? I understand that the damage has already been done and that it is very severe and irreparable, in any normal, sensible way of seeing things. We are so used to a world in which human beings are winning the war against nature, where the trees and the plants have no defences at all against the inexorable march of “progress,” though how it can be called “progress” is a great mystery. How can a world of steel and concrete be “better” in some way than a world of forests? But what if, by some magic stroke of a great wand, humans were simply no longer able to wreak destruction on the natural world – no longer able to cut down trees or to replace magnificent, ancient forests with shopping malls, parking lots, and garbage dumps?
What if the Amazon filled up again with trees? And all the forests of North America came back? And all the forests of Europe and Asia too?
Or what if humans no longer had the capacity to pollute the oceans and destroy the lives of the fish, the whales, and the sea creatures? It would take a while of course for all the pollution that’s already happened to deteriorate and stop causing death and destruction in the oceans, but perhaps some kinds of bacteria and enzymes would evolve to eat up all the plastic junk and horrible toxic substances. Then the sea creatures could live in peace and freedom again and swim in clear waters among the graceful plants of the seas.
What if all the farm animals; the cows, the chickens, the geese and ducks, the turkeys, the pigs, and the lambs were never killed for dinner? What if instead they roamed the hills, among the great trees, or swam in blue lakes? There are a few logistical problems, unfortunately, because modern farm animals are no longer adapted, as their ancestors once were, to living in the wild. So there is not a simple, easily seen solution as to how and where they could live. But the point is not that we have all the answers, which certainly we don’t. The point is simply that the way farm animals live currently, mostly on factory farms, is profoundly cruel and that the world should not subject all these billions of innocent animals to such an unkind fate.
A different world is needed – not one that is just a tiny bit better – but a different one altogether – a different situation – one in which the human-ruled world as we have known it, has come to its end, and there is a new world filled with magical animals that fly on the wind and graze on green hillsides – perhaps with dragons too, breathing fire.
An end of persecution is required – an ending of the persecution of all of nature, all animals, and the earth – and along with that end — assuming there are still some people living on the earth — the ending also of the persecution of tribal peoples, of the extinction of their languages and their culture, and ending of the persecution of all those who suffer at the hands of those who seek to subjugate the earth – the ending of wars, of economic injustice, of the persecution of women, of the young, of the old, and the disabled.
An entirely different world is needed, not an improvement of this world, not a updated model of the same thing, but instead a world where the sacred and the spiritual are alive, well, and recognized – a world that is in touch once again with the cosmos – with God and the Gods, with magic, with life and inspiration, with innocence, a world which has broken free of the bonds of slavery and the constraints of the gray misery that this current time has descended into.
Perhaps this may be what is meant by the ending of this cycle and the birth of another – the great rolling back up of the cosmic carpet, back to the beginning.
Despite all apparent evidence to the contrary, we do sometimes have a sense that the rule of tyranny and hatred, which seems so well established, will not endure forever – that, instead, the destruction of all that is innocent and sacred, will be brought to an end, perhaps sooner than we could imagine – and that there are transformative powers, immense currents, and great winds afoot in the cosmos that we cannot see or know, but that are there, all the same, and very real.
Top photo: Author: Wolfgang Sauber / Wikimedia Commons /http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maya-Maske.jpg / National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Maya mask. Stucco frieze from Placeres, Campeche.
Second photo: Author: Snezana Trifunovic http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tsnena / Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Biogradska_suma.jpg / old growth forest in Montenegro
Third photo: Author: Jon Sullivan / Wikimedia Commons / “This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Jon Sullivan. This applies worldwide.” / Waves on the ocean coast
Author: Lea Maimone http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:LeaMaimone/ Wikimedia Commons / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brahman_Baby.jpg / Brahman calf