6th January, 2000

(and that's all they are ...)
by Mary Coll

"That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet."
- Emily Dickinson

I am awed by the auspiciousness of this monumental event looming on the horizon full of great promise; and am fascinated at the reviews of our history full of such amazing accomplishments; and am excited by the prospects of the future that none of us can even conceive of or predict of yet but that all of us can sense the tantalising tingles of …
But I am also very mindful of our great talent and never failing ability as a human collective to 'drop the ball', 'miss the boat', and really screw things up.

Not being negative, just honest.
I mean, what's the big deal? Isn't it all really just a big load of hype? An excuse to give a collective pat on the back and then get totally wrecked like every other year, century and millennium? (And it's not like there have only been two millenniums…I mean, who are we kidding? Looking at the passage of time, we and all that we have achieved as a race are the period at the end of a sentence at the end of a paragraph that finishes a chapter of one of those really fat epic novels with hundreds of pages full of romance and treasure hunting and espionage and narrow escapes that takes age and ages to read…kinda like this sentence…). This chronological milestone on the timeline of human experience is just a human creation. It's a little square on a calendar, a box all wrapped up and tied with a bow that holds a point in time, a place in space, a passing of history, an entrance to the future, a threshold of change. And, when that box is opened, that historic moment in time will transform from future to present to past in a matter of seconds.

And then?…what next?
I know that the nostalgia for the past is part of the whole New Year thing. But I just wonder - isn't all this millennium stuff a distraction? Isn't all this hype diverting our attention from the true state of affairs that we find ourselves in as we enter into the next century? (which, aside from the wonders of Velcro, doesn't look much differently from the state of affairs at the last turn of the century.)

"The world is nearly all parcelled out,
and what there is left of it is being
divided up, conquered and colonized."

- Cecil Rhodes, Last Will and Testament (1902)

For example, science, in all its technological advancement, knows only what it knows, and that's all. Still. And, until it knows what it doesn't yet know, it maintains that what it doesn't know simply doesn't exist! So for now, time and space are constant, and mobile phones and GM foods are safe (talking tomatoes never lie!), and the Mars Lander wasn't gobbled up by that big monkey face. Somewhere along the timeline, during the last 1000 years, we decided to believe in only what we could see, touch, taste, measure, define, and categorize, at the expense of what we felt and 'knew inside' to be true. And for that, we have paid dearly. We have disassociated ourselves from our environment, have divided that environment into a multitude of separate parts that we exploit and control, have alienated ourselves from nature and from each other, and have sold our souls for a box seat at the top of the food chain. This king of the castle crap is the root cause of the social, political, economic, cultural and environmental crises that plague our world. I think it's time, at this end-of-millennium-clear-out, to ask for our money back, to trade in our seasons tickets and to buy life-time memberships at the gym. It's just healthier. Science has been and should be an important driving force in our development; but it's time for Science to slide over, make room for the other half of the brain, and for Reason and Intuition to kiss and make up. Yin-Yang and all that well balanced meal philosophy.

"I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling
is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research…

imagination is more important than knowledge."

- Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinion

As a people, we need to stop pretending not to know that our actions and our inactions impact directly on other people and on other things. We need to recognize how absolutely imperative it is that economic development takes responsibility for how it affects human beings and the environment. It's not idealistic, pie in the sky, if-only-we-could-just-all-get-along singsong. It's the simple matter of there being no other alternative - if there is nothing left to exploit, then there is no more money to be made. So, it's lucrative in the long run, it's prudent in the short run, and it's the right thing to do in any run (and during all other forms of exercise!). It's the only way to the future because there just won't be a future otherwise.

"Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress."

- The Sierra Club

Not being idealistic (long gone are those painful days), just honest.
As a civilization, we need to slow things down, learn to doddle again, do a lot more dilly-dallying, play more and obsess less. In our mad rush to get wherever it is we are all so intent on going, we are missing all the beauty and wonder that dots the B-line between 'here' and 'there'. The pit stops and pee breaks and detours and breakdowns and border crossings and bear sightings and 'was that a UFO?' and photo ops and roadside attractions are what fill our albums with memories and our dinner table conversations with laughter. It's the journey that makes the road trip, not the destination. Heck, we might not ever get 'there'…so let's at least enjoy the ride.

"Attentiveness rather than efficiency.
Gentle flow rather than speed."

- Kazuaki Tanahashi

So, in the 21st century, while global government taxes corporations, protects trees, cuts emissions, spends lots on education, and practices sustainable economic development (ok…so maybe that is sounding a tad idealistic, but stay with me on this one…); while science creates humanoids and cerebral implants that can upload information directly into our brains (kind of like what we all hoped would happen when we fell asleep studying, our faces smashed up against the open page of the textbook, our drool smudging the words…); while astronomy travels interstellar space and makes first contact; while entrepreneurs build Holiday Inns on the moon and develop ring side property on Saturn; and while the rest of us practice our levitation technique in P.E., do our telepathic orals in French class, and teleport ourselves to the exotic holiday corners of the cosmos, lets try keep it simple…share, play fair, take turns, listen, clean up our own messes, fix what we break, don't take what isn't ours, return all our messages, read, listen to music, eat good food, rent a few videos, phone our parents regularly, cut down on the coffee, and never go to bed mad. Nurture the imagination; play with that inner child.

And then, everything should be just fine!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

- Margaret Mead

Much peace and happiness in the years to come, and as Confucius say:
“May you live in interesting times."

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