Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / December 29, 1999

So. Here it comes. The year 2000, long touted as the end of the oldmillennium, the beginning of the new millennium, and according to some who reside closer to the edge of the lunatic fringe than the rest of us, the end of darn near everything.

What major catastrophes await us next week? What horrors will civilization be subjected to? What will happen at midnight, Jan. 1, 2000?I think I have the answer.

Nothing. Not a thing.I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings to all those out there who are screeching and preaching doom at the top of their hysterical voices but get over it. Nothing will happen. Aside from a few maniacs blowingsomething or someone to bits to prove some kind of insane point, or a few computer glitches here and there because some companies were stupid enough to manufacture computers in the late 1900s that weren’t set to adjust themselves when the clock strikes midnight in just a few years, nothing major is going to happen.

It won’t be the end of the world. Not even close. Those of you who havesold your belongings and are now living in remote caves or cabins, huddled with your assault rifles and families (in that order) are gonna feel really, really stupid sometime about the second week in January. By then you willhave looked around and realized that you have joined a long, long line of slightly off center folks who have carried “the end is nigh” signs since history began.

Let’s look at the Big Picture here. The planet itself wont even have anyidea it’s the year 2000. I’ll bet it will just keep turning around the sunjust like it has for say, oh, the four and a half billion times before. I justdon’t think a single New Year is going to change all that. The cosmos willnot see, nor would it care about if it did, an artificial holiday on this teeny tiny little planet tucked away at the edge of a monstrously large galaxy, which itself is only one of several hundred billion other galaxies, most of which are just as large, or even larger. How’s that for someperspective? Downright humbling, ain’t it? And if that’s not reality enough for you doom-sayers, let me get a little closer to home. The calendar which has decided that this is THE New Year,the one and only time world wide in which the year rolls over anew, isn’t even recognized everywhere.

This is, by and large, a Christian thing.

We tend to be ethnocentric when it comes to thinking that everyone thinks like we do, and recognizes the same things we do, because we think they should. And here’s another small dose of reality. Christianity isn’t eventhe worlds largest religion. Islam, or the Muslim religion, is. That’s whythe most common first name in the world is Mohammed, not Joe. And theyhave a different calendar which says that this is the year 1420. Theywon’t have to get all paranoid and go live in remote cabins for another 580 years.

The Chinese calendar passed the year 2000 over a thousand years ago. So,why is it that we think all these bad things will happen to us when the year turns over? Because, for one thing, we like to believe stuff like that, at least for a time. Its the adult equivalent of the scary ghost stories we loved to listento as children. They made us shiver with a delicious fear of the unknownand watch the shadows in our rooms for the monsters we were sure were there. Well, in this case the only boogie-man under the bed will be the onewith the satchel full of explosives and a promise by a maniacal puppet master that he will end up in heaven, all 827 pieces of him, if he just flips that switch for the home team.

Society is not going to collapse just because one calendar says it is now no longer the 20th Century. From the looks of things it will most likelycollapse of its own cumbersome weight anyway and won’t have to have a date on a calendar to help it.

Aside from the above-mentioned mad bomber type, I really think that the biggest hazard we’ll face this New Year will be our pounding heads the next day, and how to weasel out of any foolish New Year’s resolutions we made.

So, relax. And look at the bright side of the year turning. We won’t have tolisten to the term, “millennium,” being stuffed down our throats on every news program, every newspaper and magazine, and on every cheesy product trying to squeeze itself onto the market. I don’t know about you, but I canwait another thousand years before I have to listen to millennium this, and millennium that.

Have fun and enjoy yourselves on your holidays. They only come once ayear, and this year will be just as safe as those past. It won’t be the endof the world.

I hope.

Lee Dresselhaus is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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