Happy Morning After!

Well, here we are, facing the morning sun on January 1, 2000. Some of us may be a little hung over, but other than that there seems to be nothing unusual. No apocalypse, no rapture, no second coming. And most of all, no Y2K crisis, apart from a couple of inconsequential squeaks from Japan. What do you know, another day, another dollar, another millennium, whatever.

Are we happy? Or are we a wee bit disappointed, finding that all the dreadfulness the prophets of doom were prophesying didn’t happen after all? Perhaps we have a right to be a bit chagrined that the excitement didn’t happen, but on the whole I’d rather leave the brunt of the disappointment to those hardy fundies who camped out on the Mount of Olives or otherwise prepared themselves for some orgiastic immolation that didn’t happen. They are like brides left at the altar. I wish I could feel sorrier for them, it would be Christian of me.

No, my primary sentiments are relief–and a modest amount of pride. For when all is said and done, the Y2K problem was real, and people saw it coming, and people did something about it. We collectively behaved like a sensible truck driver speeding around a curve who sees a roadblock just ahead. He doesn’t start arguing with himself about what he should do, he jams on the brakes, and ends up stopping in time. This capacity to foresee pending disasters and take timely action is a specifically human characteristic and helps explain why we didn’t become extinct long ago. Some smart cookies back during the ice ages probably figured out when it was time to pull up stakes and move to a better location, and off and on, our forebears have been doing this ever since. A current example is the way we’ve gotten hold of the CFC problem, probably just in time to avoid our frying ourselves through elimination of the ozone layer in the atmosphere.

Let’s resolve that in the years, decades, and centuries to come we shall behave this way more often. Let’s try to be more foresighted in seeing the roadblocks that lie ahead before we start to be killed off by them, and let those of us with that kind of vision work harder to overcome the inertia and obstructionism of those of our fellows who are too dim or too contrary-minded to cooperate.

Meanwhile, I have a small request for God, if He exists and happens to be listening: Would You please, Sir, arrange a rather limited rapture to include only those who genuinely believe it is coming? It would please them, and the rest of us can get along quite nicely without them.

Carl Coon, 1/1/00

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