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Friday, December 21, 2012

Are you still here?

According to some interpretations of The Mayan Calendar, we should all be dead right now.

Or, perhaps, sometime today.

I mean, it's been "today" in New Zealand and Australia for so long it's almost "tomorrow" there. Word is, New Zealand and Australia still exist, so, there's that.

The 21st of December is also the Winter Solstice. It is the time at which the Sun is appearing at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. This earns this day the significance of being the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

This explains the various "Festivals of Lights" celebrated for centuries by people of various cultures and religious expressions, from Druids at Stonehenge in Britain and Celts at Newgrange in Ireland, to Jews celebrating Hanukkah to Christians who celebrate the birth of Jesus, "The Light of the World".

Some are calling this "The 2012 phenomenon" - a range of escatological beliefs according to which cataclismic and apocalyptic events will occur round 21 December 2012. This date is regarded as the end-date of a 5125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.

Some Republicans thought the end of the world came on November 6th when President Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term.

An astounding more of them thought the world as we now know it ended last night when House Speaker's Boehner's "Plan B" - which would raise taxes on those making $1 M and more and cut funding to things like "Meals On Wheels" - did not have enough votes from the Republican Party to pass the House.

So, the Speaker of the House declared a Merry Christmas to one and all and sent everyone home - on the path to go directly off the fiscal cliff.

Maybe the Mayans were right.

Truth is, most scholars believe that the Mayan calendar wasn't the "end of the world" but an end of a cycle of time and that we are entering a new period of transformation.

Mayan museum guide Karla Chan Poot said that, "(Mayan) People believe that they're going to see a change, in humanity, in our thinking, that there should be a return to nature. This won't be anything like the world ending, or a meteor crashing, or extraterrestrials arriving."

Actually, I do believe that the cosmos is conspiring with our culture to give us lots of messages about a transformation that is already upon us. We have damaged Mother Earth, almost beyond recognition.

Yes, WE - human beings - have done this.

"Climate change" is not an "act of God". It's a response of the universe to human beings polluting our environment.

The PBS series "The Dust Bowl," based on the work of Ken Burns, chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the "Great Plow-Up," followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation.

Beyond the historical facts and the powerful narrative from people who survived that period, "The Dust Bowl" is a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.

Apparently, we have - and, we are, in fact, in great peril. The ice caps are melting.  The rain forests have been devastated. More and more species of animals are almost extinct.

We now have major snow storms in October in the Northeast part of this country. Hurricane Sandy completely and forever changed the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, and parts of the waterfront of New York City, bringing great torrents of water into the NY subway system.

I can tell you that, in the past ten years of owning a home on Rehoboth Bay, that the water levels are changing dramatically.  As I write this, there are piles of sea grass in my front yard from the severe wind and rain storm last night. My bird house is now lying on the ground, the pole that held the Christmas banner on my deck snapped off, and a piece of flashing on the roof has blown off.

That didn't happen during Sandy.  It happened last night.

That never used to happen in December. Not on Rehoboth Bay.

Clearly, the change and transformation of the earth is already in process.

Deena Metzger has written movingly of the Winter Solstice:
Our very sun, around which we circle, will be, with other planets, in a direct alignment with this dark hole, this place of birth and death, the heart of the universe, at 3:12 am on December 21st. The light of the sun aligned with the dark at the center.

Or so it is said.

How will we meet the demand? How will we meet the Heart of the Universe? How will we step out of our involvement and enchantment with the details of our own little lives, the bloody sacrificial altar to which we have been relentlessly bringing the earth, so as to meet this sacred challenge, the great possibility of our collective and community lives?

Everyone who is reading this is has been met by spirit and called to some awakening. How will we treat and take care of each other, human and non-human, and the earth in the 5th world?
I wonder if the shootings and killings - seven this year, including the horrific killings last week in Connecticut - aren't also cosmic and cultural messages that prompt these questions.

Will we be able - finally - to awaken to the depth of violence and corruption in our culture? Will we be able to take an honest look at the disconnection, isolation and pain in America that not only wound the human spirit and soul of this country but are devastating to Mother Earth?

How are we to make the dream of freedom and justice a reality when everything in our society is translated into the language of money and power?

Can we each, individually, shift our thinking away from greed, ego and self-centeredness towards a more compassionate understanding of how we are all interconnected with all of life?

Will we be able to find and create beauty in the wounded places of our earth and our lives? Can anything good come after Hurricanes Katrina and Irene and Sandy?

Mother Jones - Make that 155
As I write this, the Associated Press reports that a shooting rampage near Altoona, Pennsylvania, has left four people, including the shooter and two state troopers, dead. If those numbers are confirmed, the incident would add to the victim count for a year that has already seen a record number of lives lost to mass shootings.

Mother Jones reports that, since 1982, there have been at least 63 (now, possibly 64) mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii.  All of these murders - with the exception of one - have been committed by a lone, young (average age 35), male shooter, more than half of whom were considered mentally ill.

Instead of blaming the movie industry or the people who produce violent video games, might we take this opportunity to take a look - a long, hard look - at ourselves? Might we consider our own penchant for violence and why some of us seem to need to own assault guns?

Might we take a long, hard look at the invisibility of people with mental illness in our midst and the shame of our seeming inability to find effective treatment modalities for them?

Can anything good and noble be created after the mass shootings this year in Colorado, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, California, Washington, Connecticut and Pennsylvania?

What if the universe is conspiring towards a great turning?

What if we decide to act as if that's true?

Might there then be reason to hope, to awaken, and to be open to a new alignment?

Perhaps the world as we now know it is, in fact, coming to an end.

Maybe what we've seen in the November Election and again last night in the House of Representatives are all part of the process of the dying and death of the old way.

Perhaps a new world is in the midst of the hard labor of birth.

We can only hope and pray that we might be co-creators and spiritual midwives to this new world.

Because maybe, just maybe, we are the light we've been waiting for.


JCF said...

All of these murders - with the exception of one - have been committed by a lone, white, young (average age 35), male shooter

That can't be right. Just thinking of 3 incidents---Long Island RR, DC sniper, Virginia Tech---I can think of 3 African-Americans and an Asian (I get your larger point, but I'm just react to errors-of-fact).

"We can only hope and pray that we might be co-creators and spiritual midwives to this new world."


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - I just checked the Mother Jones article again and you're right. They weren't all white but they were all young men who acted alone. My apologies. I will change it.

whiteycat said...

And while all of this envelopes us the only thing that the Pope can think about is gay marriage. How truly sad this is!

Sextant said...

The mass shootings attract public attention because of the shock and horror of the concentration of innocent victims in time and space. Another sad fact is that we have 30,000 gun shot fatalities a year. Half of those are suicides so that leaves about 15,000. Being generous lets take another 1000 as accidents. That leaves 14,000 intentional non-self inflicted killings a year. Thirty eight per day. It is a national disgrace that we need something like Sandy Hook to make us question the bloodshed that is occurring in our country.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Whiteycat - to be fair, I don't think that's ALL the Pope thinks about but to say that the statement is poorly to make an understatement.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sextant - I can't argue with you. It IS a national disgrace. So is capital punishment - we kill people for killing people with guns we've put into their hands.

Sextant said...


I agree 100% with the your criticism of capital punishment. We do not have the right to kill except in defense during life threatening situations. How many innocent people have been executed in this country because some district attorney was up for re-election?

We do have a blood lust in the US.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

We do, Sextant, and I swear, for the life of me, I don't understand it.

Sextant said...


I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring you peace, happiness and love.

I consider your blog a wonderful find! Keep up the great work.

Matthew said...

I just watched a documentary on the Salton Sea and it's perilous future - Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea. It turns out there are too many people and communities that need water and not enough to share for everyone. Therefore hard choices have to be made. It made me realize that oil is not our only problem with non-renewable resources. Our agricultural techniques including high efficiency and DNA modification are also reaching their technological limit along with all that fertilizer can do to feed the growing population of this planet. There are limits to the number of people this planet can support. And the more of us just leads to climate change. I can see why some think the end is near.

Bill said...

Some two hundred and thirty six years ago we left the rule of Mother England and struck out on our own. We were committed to never again being subject to a ruling class where weapons of war were restricted to the military and the landed gentry. The founding fathers could not have foreseen the technological advances in weaponry or they might have tempered their wording in the 2nd Amendment.
It has proven to be a “Pandora’s Box” and closing that box may prove to be a long hard struggle. We have to rethink two hundred years of history where every citizen could own any number and type of weapon. In their minds, any attempt to modify the 2nd Amendment is a step toward tyranny and that genuinely terrifies them.
We have to find a way to educate them to the point where they realize that certain types of weapons are not sporting arms but weapons of mass murder and not suited to the general population. Did I mention that it wouldn’t be easy?