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Afterthoughts: Apocalypse Soon

It’s the end of the world, again, and we feel fine.


Photo: Linny Morris

So. This is it. 2012. After years of hearing about it, it’s finally the beginning of the end of the world. What a relief.

If you’ve somehow managed to miss all the hype—and the half-baked disaster movie it inspired—the deal is that 2012 supposedly coincides with the end of a baktun (bless you), which is a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.

Some people believe that, once the clock rolls around to the Mayan date, a giant reset button gets pressed.

I’m not sure why the Mayans have it in for us, but I say, bring it on. It’ll be a relief not to have to pay off my credit card balance, and I’m definitely not making any arduous New Year’s resolutions. Twelve more months—zero more diets or pushups.

illustration: daniel fishel

OK, there’s a small chance this doomsday thing won’t pan out. 2012 isn’t quite the first apocalypse that’s been predicted. Just this past year, Christian radio host and bold prognosticator Harold Camping promised Judgment Day not once, but twice—first on May 21 and then, when that day passed uneventfully, Oct. 21. The year 2000 was a popular favorite, both with religious end-timers and technological ones.

In fact, once you start digging, history is full of missed deadlines for the destruction of the world, none of which seem to have discouraged us from cooking up new ones. Some of them are amazingly specific, others dangle ominously over our heads with no definite due date. Today, we’re anticipating not only 2012, but nuclear Armageddon, catastrophic global warming, the Singularity, global pandemic and an extinction-level meteor strike.

And that’s not even counting more localized disasters. In Hawaii, we can look forward to getting wiped out by hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes. My personal favorite doomsday is the large-scale shelf collapse. It’s happened before. The hollowed-out bowl of Kailua and Kaneohe was shaped when a huge chunk of Oahu slid into the ocean, ages ago. If it happens again, we’ll all be toast before the Civil-Defense sirens even start wailing. What a way to go!

Seems that people love a good story and, even better than that, starring in its thrilling climax. When it comes to Planet Earth: the Movie, who has the patience to wait for the eventual heat death of the universe when we could go out with a bang next Tuesday?

So yes, I’m gung-ho for 2012. I love having a specific deadline to work toward—it’s a managing-editor thing, I guess. In fact, I’m already planning my third act. Don’t worry, I’m going to skip the obvious action-movie tropes and go with more of a romantic-comedy vibe. You know, boy meets girl, world ends, something like that.

My backup plan? 2013 shows up right on schedule, and we live happily ever after. I could handle that.


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Honolulu Magazine September 2020
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