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Residents put end of world on back burner

POSTED: December 20, 2012 11:59 p.m.

Congratulations. You have made it through the end of days.

Over the last few months, an anticipation of the end of the world has become viral, due in large part to the ending of the Mayan calendar, which many experts say is today.

And while some across the state and the nation “prepare” for the apocalypse by building shelters, stocking up on foods or using their self-imposed last hours on earth for debauchery, many more are continuing on as is, not surprised by a new day.

“I really don’t think much about it at all,” said Travis Smith, an area resident. “It’s kind of a nonissue for me because I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”

Smith is not alone in his school of thought.

Most experts say the Mayans did not predict the end of the world. Their calendar, in fact, works similarly to an older car’s odometer —  once it reaches 99,999 miles, it just starts over again.

“The Maya calendar is cyclical, operating in both short and very long cycles as day counts, but eventually returning to the starting point, the day 13.0.0.0.0,” said Jack Wynn, an anthropology adjunct professor at North Georgia College & State University.

“That correlates with our Dec. 21 or 23, 2012, depending on which system you follow. Much like the ‘Y2K’ scare of the last day in 1999, on the next day the sun rises and one simply turns the calendar page over to the next day’s date.”

But neither anthropologists, nor logic, are slowing down some. Television shows, such as “Doomsday Preppers,” and nightclubs throwing “doomsday” parties are cashing in on the excitement surrounding the potential end to humankind.

“You see people (on television) building bunkers underneath their houses and getting food that will last for 60 years and stuff, but it’s just not for me,” said Ryan Chastain, shopping on Thursday at Lakeshore Mall. “People are entitled to believe what they want — that’s why we live in America. But it’s not my thing.”

He’s even heard of people, however serious, throwing local “end of the world” parties.

“I know a lot (of) young, college-age people — you know how it is when you’re in college; you just look for a reason to party,” said Chastain. “So they’re like: ‘It’s an end of the world party. It’s going to be awesome.’ I’ve heard of a lot of people doing the party thing, but I’m just going on like it’s another day, I guess.”  

Others, however, are turning away from their beer and to their religion to debunk the rumor of the December 2012 apocalypse.

“I’m more spiritual, so I feel like no man knows when the end of time is going to be, so for someone to put a date on it is kind of making everything the Bible says irrelevant,” said Anthony Mitchell, an area resident. “I’m firm in my belief. Whenever the day is, who really knows? But as long as you’re ready for what’s going to happen, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether it’s the end of time or not. That’s kind of how I feel.”

And it seems even the Mayans living today are not very worried about the pending demolition of the Earth.

“From what I understand,” said Wynn, “the modern Maya peoples in Mexico, Guatemala and elsewhere are no more frightened than you or I will be on Dec. 31 when we cheer and turn the calendar to a new page the next morning to begin Jan. 1.”


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