It’s about to be 2012 and the world is going to shit. Did the Mayans get it right? With the predicted end of the world just 377 days away, maybe all you’ve noticed is an increase in sign-holding-"you’re doomed"-screamers outside your subway stop. I’m not saying the world is going to end or even be marginally disrupted in the near future, but with such a focus on the negative lately, it’s not as far-fetched as it seemed when I learned about it seven years ago.
In what you could call a snapshot of the real lows that humanity can hit, 32 people were killed and 25 were injured in a massacre on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. Now, in so short a time that the first incident is still considered a touchy subject, a police officer was murdered and another body (believed to be the shooter) was found in a parking garage on the very same campus. Call it finals stress or depression. Call it whatever you want, but things like that are scary. And it seems that things like that didn’t happen so often before.
On the international level, Arab nations have seen violent uprisings across the board. Revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and civil war in Libya this past year led to overthrown governments. Of the three leaders of these countries, one was charged for killing protesters, one fled the country and one was killed, respectively. The Syrian government met protests with immediate violence, arresting and torturing children for writing anti-government graffiti messages. Other nations in the Middle East and North Africa have seen massive protests, many leading to governmental change and re-structuring.
Here in the States, we have our own little uprising. Occupy Wall Street must be doing something right; they’ve made it into more than one of my columns. Where most of our world has a strong focus on leaders and leadership, OWS has remained a leaderless movement and to date is still going strong. I’m not saying they couldn’t be doing better. They’ve had to move and re-arrange protests and other activities such as sleeping due to government intervention. But for a huge, nationwide blob that has no distinct direction or single spokesperson, the movement is doing very well. This is size-wise only, though. Two out of seven of the people I asked were able to tell me a goal of the movement or a purpose.
We -- the United States, that is -- owe China a lot of money. And not a lot like they bought us Panera as opposed to McDonald’s. I’m talking $1.2 trillion dollars. To put that in perspective, that would be 6,000 Lamborghini Gallardos (a $200,000 car).
We’re starting to legislate much like China, too. A country notorious for Internet censorship, China has long been a leader in having free reign over what the population does and does not see. The recent Stop Internet Piracy Act might give the United States that same dangerous option to shut down websites under incredibly general guidelines.
So there are a few examples. According to Discovery News, this whole Mayan 2012 thing could be 60 days off in either direction. They also said that it’s probably completely wrong. But it’s a reason to take a step back and see what’s going on around you. The news is always on, and like your friend telling you about his girlfriend problems, it’s easy to tune out. We all get caught up in our own worlds, and understandably so. But with events happening all around the globe that could very soon end up right in your world, it doesn’t hurt to look around.