Happy New Year! With the seemingly “non-event” of the end-of-the-world, what was/is really going on – anything? We’re all keen now (I guess) to get on with the new year, but there are some interesting parallels between modern civilization and the ancient Mayans. For a start, they were an incredibly complex society, with high levels of art, trade and agriculture and of course, architecture. Their knowledge of the stars and their (many) calender systems were incredible, with levels of accuracy we can achieve today, but with the aid of computers and powerful telescopes. That a “long count” cycle has just ended, only means another cycle has begun, they just didn’t record it – being rather a long way ahead of their time.
So why didn’t the Mayan culture survive? In fact it did, right up until the Spanish invasion of 1697 but there was a major collapse between 800AD and 900AD, with the southern cities and areas largely abandoned. Many reasons for this collapse are speculated, but it seems that a growing and prosperous civilisation largely out-grew its resources, changed its environment, exhausted its agricultural resources and was subject to climate change. I suspect too that their kings and leaders didn’t have their eye on the bigger picture, were too confident in their own power and ability to continue – and to grow.
Sounds familiar? It should…!
That we’re just as vulnerable to collapse or decline should be a no-brainer, but our global society seems just “too big to fail”; but this is simply just not true. We’re becoming more and more subject to exactly the same kind of pressures that the Mayan civilization faced – but amplified many times over. These pressures are increased largely because of our use of fossil fuels and we are highly vulnerable to their exhaustion. Whilst it took the Mayans some 150 years to “collapse”, we could fail far more quickly, since we have almost no in-built resilience or self-sustaining abilities any more. We live in a just-in-time society; let’s hope that we have enough time to adapt and change to the many forces that will come to bear on us during the coming decades…
A good cause to dedicate the new year to – and if you will, a new era. If 2013 heralds anything, it could be the beginning of change in levels of human consciousness – I’ll leave you with the oft-abused Einstein quote: “You cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that caused it”. Way to go.