David La Chapelle's compassionate awareness in Juneau, Alaska
The last two weeks have brought me in contact with two individuals who
are at the front lines of Y2k efforts. One deals directly with the FAA
on the issue and has watched, first hand, the dismal state of readiness
in that organization. She catagorically stated that WE WILL NOT BE
FLYING after Jan 1 2000.(consider for a moment just what that means in
terms of the world system alone: no air mail, no Federal express, no
travel, no emergency medical flights... the list goes on and on) The
other works for DOD computer lab whose mission is to keep the DOD
computers up and running. He reports that they are running three shifts
a day on testing alone and that his superiors have told him not to plan
to take any vacations next year to deal with the issue. He reports that
the FAA approached their lab but were turned away because of DOD needs
outweighed the FAA. He says that as fast as they train personal they are
skimmed off by the private sector, echoing what many have predicted. I
gave him a summary of Y2k reporting up to this date and he agreed with
all the warnings contained in the summary.
These two eye witness testimonies have been important in my own
assessment phase of the issue. Up until now all my information has been
second or third hand. Based on the knowledgeable reports of these two
individuals I am weighing in very strongly on the side of massive
disruption from the Y2k issue.
I was struck in discussions with both of these individuals with the
lack of personal contingency planning that they were making. Both are
quite articulate and knowledgeable about the situation but have not
translated into a personal action plan. Translating the knowledge of
impending disruption into real action seems to be a difficult matter
across the board. I would urge everyone to look carefully at their own
personal contingencies and establish some clear action plans.
This issue has gone past the probable stage and is clearly becoming a
reality. Based on this emerging picture I am shifting my focus from
assessment to considered action in response to the dilemma.
I have begun to network with locals and am trying to coordinate a
community response plan here in Juneau. A difficult job, but one which I
believe every one who has knowledge of this situation needs to
The escalating stress level of this event will continue to erode the
quality of our lives the nearer we get to the actual date of Jan 1,
2000. It is important that you begin to create alternative habits begin
to incorporate them into your daily schedule. Try imagining how your
world would look with a information meltdown.
I have taken to using the situation at a very personal level. I am
practicing extending a compassionate heart to all that I meet in any
public event or place that I go to. I try to visualize how best to serve
those who I meet there. In trying to imagine the levels of disruption in
their lives and the trauma which may appear I am exercising my capacity
for a broad response to the crisis. I am not sure how this will
translate into particular action, but I do know that it helps transform
the fear of the event into a wider appreciation for the human family.
I was particularly struck at our local high school graduation ceremony.
The main song for the event was the theme song to the Titanic. It seemed
a disturbingly ironic song to be sending the students off into the world
with. Looking out over the sea of caps and gowns I tried to envision the
world that these young people are about to be launched into.
If you want any further impetus to begin to take action on this issue I
invite you to join me in that consideration. What does this mean for our
children? That is a question which needs to be asked with all
I will restate what I have written elsewhere- The Y2k shock to the
infrastructure of the world system is most likely going to expose
underlying weaknesses and tensions. The escalation of stress on a system
which has clearly exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet is bound
to produce a cascade of events which is most likely extremely difficult.
If ever there has been a time to clarify your own values and anchor to
your own core it is now. The spiritual work of these times is to draw
forth the essence of this change in our personal and collective lives
and help seed the process of a transitional world. What it is transiting
too I don't believe any of us can pretend to have a clear vision of.
That we need to begin the internal work of preparation is clear.
I continue to invite dialogue and any specific reports you have of Y2k
activitieses in your area or response patterns you have evolved. Email
me at email@example.com.
David La Chapelle
June 8, 1998
On the social/environmental
implications of Y2K
I have been tracking Y2k intensively since last December... and I have
some environmental credentials as well... dealing the Prince William
Sound oil spill and working locally here in Juneau to successfully stop
a gold mine from starting up in our backyard. As well my mother,
Dolores, has been a main exponent of the deep ecology
movement for the last twenty five years.
I find that I agree with Tom Atlee that the Y2k is a
carrier wave signaling the distress of the global system and as such may
in fact be one of the most powerful and compelling voices emerging from
the planet about just how we are inhabiting this earth.
Because Y2k, by its nature, forces people to ask basic questions about
their sustainability...(food, shelter, water, power ect) there has
never, in my opinion, been a more important time to mobilize the
knowledge generated by the environmental movement so that people have
options to reach for when they begin to consider their own survival.
Just this last week I received an email from a woman who lives in Tucson
asking a very crucial question: Should she stay in Tucson if Y2k brings
about power disruption. In asking the question she pointed out that in
Tucson they only have a 48hr water supply without power.
Great question to have to ask! It should have been asked long ago. But
it is being asked and there is in the asking a crack in facade of
normalcy which has weighed so heavily upon our planets health.
Whether or not Y2k emerges as a global emergency (I personally weigh in
on the side of yes about this possibility) it is forcing people
everywhere to ask fundamental questions about their lives. This is an
enforced, (by self interest) examination of basic structures in a way
that none of us have ever had mobilize before.
I had a taste of this during the oil spill. There was a window of time
when here in Alaska many people across the board where asking serious
questions about our consuming patterns and looking earnestly for
alternatives. Unfortunately the window of attention faded as the Sound
flushed itself and business as usual prevailed.
Y2k, because it is so ubiquitous and is actually threatening the entire
complex of "business as usual" offers environmentalists an important
window of attention. To dismiss Y2k as secondary to the global
environmental situation is to miss the mark. Y2k is a fever indicating
that the patient needs to change life style or suffer irreparable
I have one interesting side note to all this. I had the privilege of
spending some time with John Fire Lame Deer, a Lakota medicine man, near
the end of his life. He made a very interesting prediction, based on a
vision he had. He said that near the turn of the century there would be
a "light man" who would come and turn off all the white man's
When I heard him speak of it my intuitive voice told me even then that
he was in some way telling the truth. I have, since then, always
wondered what he really meant and what mechanism could possibly effect
Y2k is an interesting stand in for a "light man" ... the global
nervous system of man, run by electricity it stands a significant
possibility of being degraded at a specific point in time. Or it may be
that the predicted solar flare cycle, which peaks in March of 2000, will
bring a halt by virtue of large EM pulse...
However we frame it, the coming few years are asking all of us to open
wide to change and continue our dialogue with earnest and heartfelt
David La Chapelle
July 10, 1998
An Angel's Wing
When the fabric of the world begins to unravel
the threads of our stories unwind within
the cauldron of change.
Each breath of the past is a memory
which may be unmade by the movement of the future.
If you listen you will hear the diaphanous wing of an angel
slipping through the emptiness left between the threads of our common
And if you cleave to the deepest urging of your heart
that angel's wing will brush through the fears which may assail you.
All change is the handmaiden of the universe and such visitations are
but surely they are moving on hidden currents of grace.
Our stories, our selves, are set loose upon the winds
and all that has been tightly bound begins to circle back towards a
above the littered landscapes of our fears.
It is here, with the breath of changes beneath us,
that the angel's wing informs our hearts of their true flight.
There is, beyond all the rhetoric of our understanding,
simply the awe filled moment of history unfolding its cloak so that the
bright light of possible tomorrows might be seen.
In the unsettled hours of our intimate fears
there is, always, if we will but lift our eyes a moment, an angel's wing
brushing past us.
We would not be asked to leave the ground of our common knowing unless
other parts of the universe were in similar flight.
Listen as the angel's wing passes through our unrest
and there will be the confidence that the tides of change
are indeed following a moon of fulfillment across the night of so many
David La Chapelle
August 22, 1998