New millennium arrives minus hoopla

The real event: Forget last year's parties, and Y2K scare, this is when the third millennium really begins.

January 01, 2001

IT'S TOO LATE for the partying. We did that a year ago. And it's too late to worry about the collapse of our technology-driven world. (Remember the Y2K fears that didn't pan out?) But today we get a second chance to do it right -- celebrate the true start of the millennium.

There's no Year Zero in our history books. We don't count time that way. We begin with Year 1. That means the next thousand-year period begins right now, on the first day of Year 2001.

Happy Third Millennium!

That's a huge chunk of human history, a giant swath of multi-generational happenings, beginning with the traditional year used to commemorate the birth of Jesus of Galilee (though experts believe he was actually born a few years earlier). We've come a long way, baby.

In that period, Earth has made 2,000 circles around the Sun -- a 580-million-mile annual trip. Meanwhile, the Sun has been on the move, traveling nearly 9 trillion miles in its orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Viewed from this perspective, our journey pales in significance, a mere speck in the immense universe beyond planet Earth.

And yet think how far the human race has advanced over the past 2,000 years. Think how far we have to go. This is a moment to reflect on our history as well as our destiny, a moment to celebrate existence on Earth. Sure, it's an artificial moment. There's nothing sacred in marking off 1,000 years to signify a seminal period. There are no astronomical cycles of 1,000-year durations.

But the capitalists among us -- and their numbers are growing throughout the world -- brilliantly hyped last year's crossing of the triple-zero barrier. They used our communications revolution to turn the 2000 celebrations into a financially enriching, global mass-awareness event.

Now is the proper moment, though, to get on with the serious business of starting the third millennium. We turn a page in time. Think back on what it means to you, and what it could mean for future generations when the fourth millennium begins.

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