By this point, regarding apocalyptic predictions of the ending of the Mayan long-count calendar's grand cycle later this year, you're probably either a) sick and tired of hearing about it, b) already tucked away in a survival shelter clutching your rifle, or c) scratching you're head and muttering "Mayan, calendar, ending, huh?".
But what about actual modern-day Mayans?
IPS News has some insight and it turns out that the descendants of the ancient Mayans are far more concerned about current environmental problems than they are about their old calendar.
Antonio Mendoza, of Mayan activist group Oxlajuj Ajpop:
There are leaders who let themselves be carried away by what they hear...and they are worried that a catastrophe will will happen, but none of that is true.
What does cause us a great deal of concern is how to bring people together in the effort to refocus our behavior with respect to nature, global warming, and the neoliberal policies that only extract oil and minerals and install large factories, posing a serious threat to humanity. ... The idea [behind Mayan organizations in Guatemala coming together in 2012] is to come together in unity and solidarity and salvage the valuable Maya knowledge about nature and Mother Earth.
This new stage is extremely important for reflection and analysis about human coexistence and nature.
The rest of the IPS article has more commentary, from other Mayan groups, which is pretty interesting. Definitely read it.
What I'd like to add into this conversation is this:
Modern Mayans speaking up for environmental protection and protection of Mother Earth, and against neoliberal trade policies and extractive industries, is just another example of a wider Central and South American movement with roots in indigenous cultures speaking up for a different vision of humanity's relationship with the planet.
At the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held in Bolivia, the following rights for Mother Earth, for Pachamama, were agreed upon:
The right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right to not be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Controversially, it will also enshrined the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities." (The Guardian)
Outside of supporters of Polly Higgins and the movement to make ecocide an international crime (a worthy goal, if one far from being reached right now), this view of rights for Mother Earth, outside of human rights or even animal rights, is decidedly the outlier position. Which is really too bad, as it is where we as the environmental movement ought to be heading, philosophically and psychologically.