Jewish World Review
Jan. 26, 1999 /19 Shevat, 5760
Y3K already? We
haven't yet recovered
Do you think we could all agree to do each other a
favor right now?
The world is filled with enough worries -- do you
think we could agree not to worry about this one
I refer to the year 3000 -- specifically, to how we
wish to be remembered in 3000.
The subject comes up because there have been
several attempts in recent weeks to get us -- as we
pass through these early days of the new millennium
-- to start putting little thought-packages together
as a gift to the men, women and children who will
be here 1,000 years from now.
The idea, as I understand it, is that we should, as a
people, prepare presents for the people of the year
3000. That, as our millennial project, we should
explain what is important to us, what we are
accomplishing -- that when the year 3000 dawns,
the people who are alive then should know what
mattered to us in 2000.
A lovely sentiment--but, in the exhausted
morning-after of Y2K, do we really need to be
thinking about this? Having just summed up the last
millennium, do we need to begin summing ourselves
up for the next?
Because here's a hint:
They aren't going to care.
The people of the year 3000 will be just about as
interested in us as we are in the people of 1000.
Meaning: not very.
Being, as you may have noticed, a rather
self-absorbed species, our collective interest tends
to center on the things with which we are familiar.
That is why, when the last millennium was being
considered during the final months of 1999, an
overwhelming preponderance of attention was paid
to the 20th Century. Lots of talk about JFK and
FDR and World Wars I and II and the invention of
radio and television and the rise of the motorcar --
relatively little talk about anything that came before.
Do you think that the people of the year 3000 will
be any different -- do you think that human nature
will have changed so much by then that, as the next
millennium arrives, those people will want to talk
and think not about the leaders and events of their
lifetime, but of ours?
Oh, you say, but we're such so fascinating these
days -- what we are doing is so intriguing, so
compelling. History is being made right now --
certainly the people of 3000 will want to dwell on
Let's face it -- in terms of the year 2000 and all the
millennial summing-up that's been going on,
because we're here right now we can tell ourselves
that the events of our lifetimes are what matter.
But we're going to be blips in the year 3000 --
Consider these events, which took place in the first
50 years of the last millennium. They are parallel to
what we're living through now -- by the year 3000,
the events of our lives will have as much meaning to
people as the events listed here have to us:
Basil II defeated the Bulgarians at Vidin.
Rudolph III of Burgundy appointed Henry II as his
Ethelred invaded South Wales.
Pisa annexed Corsica.
Takayoshi founded the Tosa school of painting.
Guido d'Arezzo introduced solmization.
Jaroslav of Kiev founded Dorpat.
The caliphate of Cordoba was abolished.
Anselm of Canterbury was born.
Siward murdered Eardwulf and became sole ruler
English monks mastered embroidery.
Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the Hindus at
Sancho of Navarre took Castile.
Hardicanute, son of Canute, was given control of
Polyphonic singing replaced Gregorian chants.
Now . . . did you find yourself talking much about
those things in 1999, as the old millennium ended
and you were ruminating about the most influential
people and events?
Probably not. But in the early days of the last
millennium, those all were stop-the-presses items.
Except there were no presses (which, come to
think of it, may be the case in 3000).
So why don't we all slow down. We're not going to
matter. The people we are so entranced with right
now -- Steve Case of AOL, Bill Gates of
Microsoft, George W. Bush and Bill Bradley and
Al Gore and John McCain -- will hold as much
interest to the people of 3000 as . . .
Well, as Hardicanute or Ethelred or Sancho of
Navarre do to us.
Relax. The pressure's off -- we're free. Enjoy
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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