Opinion » Editorial


The Year 2000 may just signal that we’re getting older Back in the ’60s, when anything was possible, encyclopedias and other books of knowledge portrayed life in the next century as being very different from the life we led at that time. Automobiles would be replaced by personal transport vehicles that hovered off the ground and looked like flying saucers. Either that or individuals would travel through the air propelled by jet packs on their backs. So here we are on the eve of the Year 2000 and we’re still travelling around in automobiles (although now their called SUVs), anxiously awaiting to see if the microchips and computers built in to those automobiles allow them to start on New Year’s day. Will all those computer games and software that people received as Christmas presents last week be obsolete Saturday morning? It’s funny how the brave new world predicted for mankind in the 21st century has been forgotten, at least temporarily, while we wait to see what happens to our computers, financial system, utilities and phone lines at midnight on the 31st. But while fewer and fewer people are concerned about computer-related problems — what can you do at this point? — emergency services personnel are worried about people perceiving a Y2K problem and, for example, withdrawing all their cash from the banks, devastating the financial system. And rather than 2000 signalling a new beginning, some religious zealots see it as the end. The F.B.I., in a study published last month, says extreme right-wing American groups, like the racist Christian Identity movement, see the Year 2000 computer fears as "the perfect event upon which to instigate a race war." Studies suggest that perhaps 60 million Americans believe that the Book of Revelation's prophecies of apocalypse will come true soon. And the Israelis have spent more than $10 million on new security measures in and around the Temple Mount, the site of the third-holiest of all Islamic shrines; the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall. Some Jewish and Christian zealots believe that the Messiah's return will be hastened by the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and the creation of a Third Temple at the site. In the weeks leading up to New Year’s the Israeli authorities have arrested or deported anyone who looked even just a little suspicious. Closer to home, security measures have been increased for New Year’s Eve in Whistler, but the bigger fear is that there may be vacancies, rather than too many people. It’s a predicament everyone in the travel and tourism business discovered too late — that people aren’t all that excited by the year 2000 and have decided the snow or the beaches or the cruise ships will still be there in mid-January and that may be a better time to take advantage of them than New Year’s Eve. Rather than the dawning of a new era where we get around by jet packs and personal flying saucers, maybe the next millennium is a time to re-discover the simple things, the constants in life, like gravity pulling you down a snow-covered hill. Perhaps all the fears about technology and religious radicals have dampened our enthusiasm for celebrating the Year 2000 to such a degree that people have instead turned inward, to friends and family. Or maybe we just can’t party like we could in the ’60s.