“Does anybody really know what time it is?” The band Chicago asked that question in a ‘70s pop song, but now I know the answer. No!
Witness the media and marketing mania toward the supposed turn of the millennium at this year end. If I hear one more time that we are all watching the last this or that of the 20th century or that the year 2000 will mark the start of the third millennium, I am going to throw my Timex at a sun dial. There, now I feel better.
For the record, I will be joining other killjoy calendar purists with pointed hats and party horns in a small phone booth on December 31, 2000 awaiting the actual turn. It doesn’t happen until then.
Most people are smart enough to know that. I think. I thought. Like most things these days, we can’t wait for the big event when it will actually occur. Seems like fun enough to celebrate the rolling over of zeros in the year 2000 without resorting to premature elation.
The whole calendar-dating thing is desperately off-base anyway. What of the Jewish calendar or Muslim or Chinese? As for the Gregorian Christian calendar, we’re messed up there too.
We observe the last four months two months late — September, October, November and December are all from the Latin for seven, eight, nine and 10, not nine, 10, 11 and 12 — because until January and February got tacked on we only had 10 months in all, like most everything in Roman society organized around 10s.
AD 2000 (not 2000 AD!) means Anno Domini 2000 — “in the year of our Lord 2000.” (BC = “before Christ” and thus comes after the year number.) We now know that Jesus was born some time between 6 and 4 BC., which means that 2000 years after his birth would have been between 1994 and 1996.
Telling time is a uniquely human urge. Animals aren’t consumed with questions of mortality or productivity. We look for meaning. But it won’t be found in calendar calisthenics.
The computer Y2K problem will likely be more severe than some think and less than others think. But beware those who attribute great spiritual significance to dates, thinking they know the beginning of the end. Only God knows; even Jesus didn’t.
“Be anxious for nothing,” the Bible says. “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Today has enough troubles of its own.” Jesus warned us to be ever ready. We are always living in the last days.
No calendar or watch will tell you that. You have to watch your heart. Time has a date with us all. And as the saying goes, “Time waits for no man.”