The earth turned, time zone by time zone.
You could almost see it turning, even from Tennessee, simply by switching on
TV. Images of people celebrating around the world were served up like
segments of an
orange, slice by global slice.
Just half a century ago, no communications satellites existed. On Jan. 1,
entire world was attuned to them. This is news.
True it's a different kind of news, one that belies the old expression, "Good
no news." The first tick of the 2000's, like the first tick of the Common
Era, was all about
Indeed, we experienced an eerily smooth transition from the 1900s to the
weather, as witnessed on TV, was near-perfect in most every time zone, as an
ever-renewed mother earth rolled into a new millennium. The great wonders of
from the Pyramids to the Eiffel Tower, from the Acropolis to the Statue of
bathed in glorious light. No celebrations were marred by terrorism. The Y2K
metamorphosed into a butterfly and flew away. Sweetness and light were
expressed from a
thousand stages and pulpits.
What's more, a certain tidiness pertained. Not only were terrorists
their absence on Jan. 1, but hostages taken days earlier on an Indian
jetliner were released.
That former and forever Beatle, George Harrison, was already recovering from
wounds that had punctuated the end of the 1900s in London. And Boris Yeltsin
to drag his political baggage and health concerns onto the political stage of
I don't know about you, but I was enthralled by all of it. The amazing
spirit of good-will, the pervading sense of good fortune, and the
implications for the
Philosopher, educator and architect Marshall McCluhan, way back in the
predicted the advent of a "global village." I think we saw its arrival on
Jan. 1. To be sure,
there had been other world-wide media events. An awed international audience
watched Apollo 11 astronauts walk on the moon, and every Super Bowl is a
but no international hoopla had ever been so comprehensive or inclusive. None
from so many points of origin as the party most of us joined in two weeks ago.
In the past I've offered the opinion that future historians would pick some
human event as the one marking a new millennium. The first moon landing for
might be seen as the signal event of our times. Others might serve as well.
atom. Cloning Dolly. Global warming. Radio signals from the stars, when and
But it could be that New Year's Day, 2000, will itself be remembered for
a new way of seeing the world. For millions of kids, it marks a new
paradigm--an age in
which we feel viscerally what scientists and explorers have been saying for
world is round. Watch it roll into sunlight. From Bangkok to Beloit. From New
Still, old habits are hard to break, and some ways of thinking are so
language and the subconscious that they find expression centuries after they
cease to make
sense. So it was on New Year's Day, when a CNN anchor referred to
celebrations in "all
four corners of the globe." What an incongruous phrase to hear uttered in
2000. Yet there
it was. Medieval, superstitious, contradictory. Past and present all rolled
up in one
confusing phrase. Proof that progress and human consciousness does not move
age to age, but jerks along, like history, in fits and starts.
Still yet, for one long day--the first day of the year 2000--the world seemed
with smooth precision, into a new, challenging and wondrous age.