Saturday, November 21, 2009
The Mayan Empire
some semi-connected impressions:
Recently I had occasion to visit the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, Belize,
and listen to the enlightened guide of Carlos from "Lamanai Tours", Orange Walk.
(I highly recommend them, if you are down that way...)
Lamanai was one of the longest continually-habitated cities of the Mayans,
located some 8 kilometers from a major stone quarry on the New River lagoon.
Carlos said that when the spanish first arrived in the new world
and found these civilized inhabitants they asked them, in spanish, who they were.
The residents answered, in their own language, that they did not understand.
The sentence sounded like "mayan" to the spanish, and the name stuck.
Carlos explained about 2012 that Armageddon is just a Hollywood fabrication ...
that the Mayans did, indeed, have a circular calendar
and that one of the calendar's units was (is) a 52-year period
that just happens to end again in 2012.
The last one ended about the time of Kennedy's inauguration ....
The next one will end in 2064.
Circles have this quality about them, they just keep going around and around,
they never end ...
Carlos also talked about the devastation
that the spanish brought to the Mayans,
how Pisarro captured their king, held him for ransom,
and when the gold was paid, killed him anyway.
He also told how it was really the diseases of europe,
(among them syphilis, small pox, and tuberculosis)
which devastated their population and civilization even more than the spanish guns.
But what was even more interesting to me was
when he explained that the Mayan civilization actually went into a decline
spontaneously, around 900 AD, long before the spanish arrived.
Their calendar and indeed a whole system of hieroglyphics
had been developed prior to that time but reading and writing fell into disuse
and the whole population and economic development declined.
He voiced the question of modern scholars, "What happened?"
I know what happened.
Same thing's happening here, now.
At a certain point (it doesn't matter where!)
the general population of a civilization will reach a point where,
in their collective imagination,
there is precious little room for the civilization to grow.
There are no new frontiers.
At that point, the civilization will gradually turn from
productive, growth-oriented strategies to strategies
which are meant to defend or secure or hold on to what people have.
And because growth stops, those strategies of just trying to hold onto what we have
are doomed, by the law of entropy, to fail.
Everything in God's world works on cycles,
up and down, around and around.
Nothing stays the same, nothing goes up forever.
From a distance, its not that hard to see.