This was a poignant comment made by an author about our current human civilization, in comparison to our ancestors. He said the phenomena of still being in existence while living among extensive ruins that we ourselves have created in our lifetimes is unprecedented.
For the Maya and the Anasazi, perhaps it was a 50-200 year drought that led to their abandoning their cities and eventual collapse. For the Mesopotamians, perhaps the mineral salt build-up in their crops destroyed their agricultural system. War, lack of necessary minerals and nutrients, a shifting atmosphere and climate - there are so many different reasons why civilizations have fallen.
I always find it fascinating to take a step back and really look at the scope of our current human civilization. We haven't been around for a very long time at all, and I sense a repetition of history in our arrogance that we think we will simply always be in existence.
Not that I don't want our civilization to survive. But all of those reasons for a civilization declining that I listed above are very real threats to us now. Our population is becoming so large that we already can't feed and give water to all humans on the planet. To enhance the problem, those who have more access to food and water are hoarding supplies away, 'just in case'. This makes the number of people we can supply through cycling our resources even less.
Interesting survival skills - we utilize the same techniques with greed and money as we do on basic survival. Or perhaps the bigger issue is that people consider them one and the same.
Anyway, we are clearly tapping all of our minerals and resources, and changing the climate in a big way as a result. Will we run out of oil before we come up with a truly successful and efficient way to produce cleaner energy, or will we choke ourselves to death on the pollution we're causing?
Or, will we just blow each other up in a final nuclear war?
Eek! That got pretty heavy and morbid just then. Not trying to bring you down, but I'm sure this is something that you've thought about. Anyway we're pretty casual about it - we've taken some ancient civilization's predictions, made a blockbuster movie where the world is destroyed by AWESOME special effects and HEART STOPPING dramatic close-calls - I think you've proven you can handle the discussion.
Anyway, as far as the whole Mayan Calendar thing, what I think is that it won't be one event that happens on December 21st. I think that the year 2012 will put us face to face with the choices that determine our survival more than ever before. We will either make the choices that alter the way we look at our human society, or we will choose the path of greed and destruction. Some things aren't yet written in stone and I think this is a big moment for free will.
Or maybe the aliens are finally coming to try to colonize and we'll have to band together and become planet Earth, rather than this country, this continent, etc...
There's a difference between wishing for world peace in the world as it is now, and wishing for deeper human collaboration in order to create a completely new way of living. We need a way of life that looks at trade/commerce differently, we need a way of life that focuses on the basic necessities of survival first and foremost, and then picks up their Wii afterwards. It's about living a life such that you are your priority, but you are also aware of the effect of the way you live, and are active in making it as compatible with the rest of the world as possible.
Ah well, one can dream, right?