It has been labeled a bug, a glitch, a crisis, a time-bomb. It's referred to as "Y2K." But a mysterious hush surrounding this issue has ignored the public interest and camouflaged the truth. Although the silence continues to hover, Y2K is not under wraps. We are learning through our own research that a critical mistake in software design threatens the stability of present-day life.
A problem which began as a small technical error now has social and economic consequences too complicated for experts to solve on their own. Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre has cautioned: "The year 2000 problem is the electronic equivalent of El Nino. This is going to have implications in the world. . . that we can't even comprehend."
The news is unsettling, preposterous-authentic. We could easily opt for denial. It is crucial, however, that we pay attention.
In a society that swings between apathy and over-reaction, there is an unspoken plea for equanimity, clarity and insight. That plea will heighten as more and more people wake up to the significance of the millennial glitch. We cannot sidestep the question; it is everywhere we might go. And you and I may have to get involved!
Individually and collectively, we must find a way to face the situation without buckling under its weight. Perhaps, after getting past our initial disbelief, we'll be able to see Y2K as a monumental opportunity, an urgent request.
What is called for here is absolute trust that a Larger Intelligence will guide us through a crisis that has caught us unawares. At this moment in the story of mankind, our faith and compassion must come out of seclusion and into the world. This is not about dogma; it's a matter of steadfast awareness and unprecedented caring.
The task at hand is to prepare for the possibility of tremendous upheaval. We'll want to consider how to help each other should any system shut down. We need to create networks of support that can step into action wherever difficulty shows up. Grassroots participation will be essential to the resolution of Y2K. If we approach this work consciously and together, we could be drawn into a process of community-building, soul-searching and inner renewal.
What can you and I do to get ready for a bumpy ride into the 21st century? We can urge government officials to make Y2K planning a national and international imperative. We can insist that we be kept well informed. (Glib answers don't make the grade.) We can educate ourselves. (Up-to-date information is posted daily at www.year2000.com and elsewhere on the web.) We can include ourselves and each other in the dialogue that unfolds. This set of circumstances is too large for our leaders to handle without help.
Strange as it may seem, the imminent deadline for Y2K preparedness could work to our advantage. The somber prospect of economic chaos could rouse us into a passionate commitment to the common good. When the challenges that lie ahead are fully understood, neighbors, agencies, service organizations, churches, schools, competitive businesses and citizens of all ages will have reason to collaborate as never before.
There is no time to waste, and no quick fix to magically adjust what must be corrected. We cannot pinpoint the spots where trouble will crop up, or know how long trouble will last. But we can think well about how we would want to interact should major or multiple breakdowns take place.
Suppose that neighborhood groups on every continent were creatively exploring this question! Indeed community meetings are already happening in unsuspecting places. This spontaneous response to Y2K could give purpose, meaning and new direction to our everyday lives.
What is the message in the year 2000 drama? The questions are ponderous; the learnings ongoing.
It would be foolish to sit back and assume that corporations and politicians will not let systems collapse. They are incapable of solving the problem, and have left us to contend with the fallout. Do we want to fix the software in order to salvage a lifestyle that can be isolating, fear-driven, over-extended? Can we protect our own assets without jeopardizing our neighbor's? Is it feasible to plan for massive, random disruption?
This sobering predicament puts us on notice to reorient our relationship to life itself. Y2K is the outcome of a long-standing glitch in the collective unconscious. A skewed perception of who we are and why we are here has resulted in a planetary crisis. If we want to resolve this startling turn of events, we'll need to alter our viewpoint.
Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of the fact that we are part of a unified Whole. We have convinced ourselves that we are solitary players in a hostile environment, striving to succeed, struggling to survive. We've pushed hard against the ancient rhythms that nourish the cosmos, and we have gotten into a jam.
Science confirms what Buddha has said. We are tied to one another. We cannot escape our interconnection. Our actions and reactions have global repercussions. Our consciousness does make a difference.
Are we willing to give up an old familiar mindset for a wider, kinder perspective? We could start by behaving as if the divinity in every living thing mattered. If we stopped looking for reasons to hold back our love, life would be more delightful. We'd move from a stance of self-preservation to the expansive awareness of union. We'd make decisions based on our interdependence. Because that is what works!
The time has come to uncover our blind spots, open our hearts-shift our intention, so that a collaborative, self-sustainable social system can become a reality worldwide. Nothing less than each others' well-being will guarantee our own.
But how do we close the gap between the way things are and the way they could be? How do we let go of outworn opinions? How are we to move forward, knowing, as we do, that the life we've been leading may be falling apart?
Let's remember that there are no degrees of difficulty when it comes to miracles. One problem is no more daunting than another. A miracle is an expression of the love that flows between the Creator and creation, the Unseen and the seen. Our recognition of that never-ending flow is the antidote to Y2K.
By listening within, we'll receive relevant answers to pressing concerns. Each of us has access to insight that can help, heal and meet the human need. We can no longer expect someone else's brilliance to exempt us from connecting with our own. The wisdom we desire is right in our midst, not far off in the occasional, exceptional expert or star. Our receptivity to the influence of Love could determine what transpires.
We would do well to consider that, while logistically there is not enough time or know-how to untangle the mess, there is an elasticity about time. It has been said that one instant of divine awareness is as a thousand years. We can learn more in a flash of inspiration than we could mentally figure out in decades. Spiritual consciousness changes our beliefs about time.
The Greeks have two words for time: kairos and chronos. If we want to proceed wisely, we will need to become acquainted with kairos, the timeless instant, the atmosphere in which new perceptions break through.
When and where do we encounter kairos? Usually we notice it after the fact. Kairos takes us beyond the limits of ordinary experience. Kairos is the dancer lost in the dance, the artist at one with her painting, the poet communing with the muse, the child at play, the athlete performing in the zone. Kairos is available in the stillness of the soul. For many of us, meditation holds the key.
Staying in touch with the stillness-no matter what-requires patience and commitment. As we interrupt our addiction to nonstop thinking, as we give ourselves space just to be, a different perspective comes into view, and problems begin to unravel. Turning to the quiet, again and again, is the most direct route to the solutions we seek.
Y2K demands that we get into kairos before we take action. With practice, anyone can engage with that internal peace. Sometimes all that's needed is a single deep breath. We are not locked into chronos, the 60-minute hour. We are not racing against an ominous clock. We can learn to be aware of both the within and the without.
Each of us has access to a state-of-the-art, up-to-the-minute system of support, a system that is not subject to breakdown. We can log on to this ultimate web by asking for guidance and expecting a reply. By becoming the calm center which elicits order from chaos. By aligning with the good that wants to emerge, and by voicing the crystal clear truth.
Coming to terms with Y2K is not easy. How do we work through troubling emotions? How do we talk about this with children? When are we in a position to tackle the problem?
In my own case, in the spring of 1998, I was putting the finishing touches on a book that I've been writing for a number of years. Joy ran through me as I wrote:
The daydream is over. Home is in sight. . . . The Great Awakening, set in motion long ago, has sent a tremor through the status quo. Transformation is beginning to happen.
The promise of those words lingered with me for days, putting a lilt in my stride and a smile in my heart. Until I was told that the millennial bug is really a bomb.
Suddenly, everything that I believe went up in smoke. Along with my hopes and visions. Even though I am easily the most positive person on the block, I slipped into a tailspin of fear-fear for myself, fear for my loved ones, fear for the world. Then outright despair. I felt confused about what I had written.
I had been so moved by the immediacy of a collective awakening, that I had minimized the shock-waves that might come first. Unwittingly I lost sight of the main event. Disaster was all I could see. I was harangued by mental chatter: Is it too late? Has Western civilization gone over the edge? Nuclear proliferation, racism, toxic waste, corporate greed, the Asian economy-and now Y2K!
After a week or two of wrestling with God and entertaining adverse ideas, I am glad to be squarely back in my peace and once again listening for guidance. And, yes, transformation is needed, is possible, is in process. Yes. Yes. Yes.
I let myself experience the depth of my reaction. I withdrew. I grieved. I got angry. I was humbled. In the end, it was journal writing that calmed my mind. Out of the blue came the message: My reason for being on the planet today is to celebrate our rebirth-not to witness our demise.
The willingness to face my worst fears, allowed me to heal and to become part of a collective renewal. Little by little I found myself talking about Y2K, scanning books on the crisis, checking out the Internet and any information I could find in the news. Then writing letters to editors, op-ed pieces and more. Every step has been a response to a nudge from within.
I know that I will need support from new friends and old as we approach the millennium together. I also realize that I tend to resist personal growth till my back is against the wall. When at last I decide to stop dragging my feet, miracles occur. Surely this dynamic holds true for a community, a culture, a nation, a world.
Today, just months away from the year 2000, there is a call to shake loose from the daydream that would leave us unprepared. How big a jolt will it take to attract and hold our attention? We don't need to wait for a state of emergency before choosing to become involved. Like the relentless dandelion that keeps popping up, may each of us come forward with questions, insight and inspired aha's. Our input will make a difference.
Watching our technical prowess turn on itself can be disorienting and frightening. Why didn't we see this coming? When did we fall off the beam? Now that we've followed each other right to the brink, we'll have to do an about-face and wend our way home. It was unconsciousness that put us in these difficult straits. Let's not rush blindly into the future. We'll need to be wide awake as we take our next steps. And we'll need to be willing to change.
Transformation means laying down our hopes, our fears, our plans and assumptions to make way for a reality we haven't yet seen. It means trusting that life can unfold with everyone's best interests in mind. It means responding to inner prompting moment by moment, day after day. It means participating in the world from the standpoint of Love.
Y2K can be understood as both a problem and a gift. To experience the gift we must get to know the problem. The better we grasp the problem, the more clearly we see that the successful resolution of this unthinkable mess can only come forth from a spiritual and global perspective.
The mentality that allowed a tiny mistake to mushroom into an international alert is incapable of discerning what we need to do now. Sheer intellect is not up to the task. Only as we tap into to a Larger Intelligence, will we know how to proceed and how we can help. The problem, then, is inseparable from the gift.
What a relief to discover that we don't have to solve Y2K on our own. The help that we need is inherently here. If we work together in the context of Love, our actions will evoke healings we could not have foreseen. Reaching out to one another, crossing boundaries that have kept us apart, maintaining our focus, speaking the truth, devoting ourselves to the common good-this is the budding of a new society.
Could it be that a technological fiasco will propel us into a simpler, more conscious, inclusive social order? Is the Great Awakening truly underway? Let us act as if that were the case.
© 1998 Sarah Kettell Eames
Please copy and share freely.
(A version of this article which includes an explanation of the technical aspect of the computer problem is available on request.)
Thanks to the following for providing the information in this article:
John Petersen, Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers. "Year 2000: Social Chaos or Social Transformation?" The Berkana Institute, Provo, UT, June 1998.
Fred Kaplan. "Military on Year 2000 Alert," The Boston Sunday Globe, June 21, 1998.
W. Michael Fletcher. Computer Crisis 2000. Self-Counsel Press, Bellingham, WA, January 1998.
Sarah Kettell Eames, MA, is a writer, healer and longtime student of metaphysics. She offers uncommon support to those who are coping with transition, anxiety or inner awakening. Eames recently completed a guidebook for living in the new millennium. A resident of Northern California, she can be reached at 415-256-9876.