Theobald: How Y2K Can Support Fundamental Change : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

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From: Robert Theobald
Subject: How Y2K Can Support Fundamental Change
Date: Saturday, March 27, 1999 5:59 PM

I believe that the Y2K debate is changing its nature again. Here's my attempt to state what is going on. Your feeback would be particualrly relevant in view of our planned April 8 and May 27 broadcasts. I look forward to hearing from you on this if you can make the time.

The growing split in the Y2K debate
Robert Theobald
You are welcome to use this piece in any useful way by forwarding or printing it. (It is useful for me to be informed if you do so.) If you receive this as a forwarded message, and want to stay in touch with my further writing please let me know. I am a Spokane-based speaker and writer. My latest book is Reworking Success.

Many conventional discussions of Y2K suggest that the extreme positions around the millennium bug are to see it as a bump in the road or the "end of the world as we know it." It is now clear that the failure to deal with the issue internationally guarantees that problems will be significant. But more critically, some people now welcome the prospect that we shall see the end of the world as we know it rather than fearing this result.

Great gulfs are opening up within the debate over Y2K. For most people, the challenge is still to make sure that the bug, caused by listing dates with two figures rather than four, does not disrupt the smooth functioning of economies and societies. The ideal result for this group is that January 1, 2000 comes and goes without disruption and is a non-event.

The number of informed people who believe that this can happen is now very small. It is now clear that there will be disruptions. The only question is the scale. A growing amount of effort is therefore going toward "contingency" planning to make sure that approaches have been developed to deal with the dangers that can emerge. The ideal is that there should be as little disruption of the "normal" course of life as possible. There is much controversy over what is required to achieve this result most efficiently but for most of those working in this direction the goal is completely clear.

The consensus about the return to past models is challenged by those who are aware that the human race can only thrive if its dominant ways of thinking and acting are profoundly different in the twenty-first century than those in the twentieth. There are a very large number of people who share this view although they are divided into a number of movements: peace, environmental, common ground, right livelihood and many other issues.

A lot of people in these groups are still ignoring the Y2K issues. Those who are not are taking two profoundly different stances. One argues that the critical need is to mobilize as much activity as possible around Y2K so as to minimize suffering and breakdowns. They then argue that raising broad issues of fundamental change is likely to get in the way of the necessary mobilization and downplay their longer-run concerns.

The other group, to which I belong, argues that Y2K must be used as an early warning of profound dangers ahead. It is like the canary in the mine which used to warn of deadly gasses before they could be perceived by miners. Y2K should serve as a wake-up call so that we become aware of the fragility of the technological systems we have created in the second half of the twentieth century, their unsustainability and their lack of resilience.

This group also argues that the dilemmas of Y2K cannot be dealt with using current patterns of organization and consciousness. We quote Einstein who argued that problems could not be solved with the consciousness which created them. Y2K calls out for cooperation across boundaries a recognition that we need to hang together for otherwise we shall hang separately.

In addition, this group argues that development of creative energy is far more likely using a broad canvas than with a narrow emphasis on the Y2K issue. It believes that people are already suffering from Y2K fatigue and that only a broader vision can provide the scope for the large-scale shifts which must take place in the near future to avoid major breakdowns around the world.

Y2K is not an isolated phenomenon. It is part of a mindset which sets human beings against each other and against nature. It is a symptom of a world which emphasizes economics over society and the environment. It is part of the short-run thinking of the industrial world.

I have been intensively involved in the Y2K issue for a year. I have realized in the last few weeks that it is too narrow a container for the work we have to do. It is no more than a warning sign showing the major changes in thinking that are required as we learn to live in a world where we must cooperate if we are to survive. We must also stop organizing to achieve a machine-like socioeconomic system and learn to operate together as fallible human beings.

To do this, we must realize that our real needs are spiritual rather than materialistic. The most wonderful surprise is how many people share this understanding. They may express it in different ways: from a religious perspective or a desire to revive traditional values or from the vantage point of an ever-growing number of spiritual traditions. But the recognition is there. It is our challenge to give people an opportunity to express it.

If we succeed we shall look back at the end of the twentieth century as the end of the world as we knew it and rejoice.

Blessings and Peace,


East 202 Rockwood Blvd, #1,
Spokane, Wa 99202, USA



-- Critt Jarvis (, March 28, 1999


If you really want to see a thought-provoking discussion of some of the "humanitarian" issues, take a look at Daniel Quinn's provocative book "Ishmael". You can find it on the Amazon site and various other places...


-- Ed Yourdon (, March 28, 1999.

What broadcasts?

-- FM (, March 28, 1999.

The global population explosion, war, hunger and disease are clearly bad things. Without thinking ahead a bit, we're in trouble!

World Socialism is not the answer though. A wealth-redistribution scheme where the producers support the non-producers results in a system where eventually almost nothing gets produced. Without some element of "survival of the fittest" to weed-out the lazy, you have a system much like the old Soviet Union. Even the limited Socialism is Europe seems to be causing severe productivity/competiveness problems.

Population control will be important, but there also needs to be some sort of "merit-based" system, where the people who produce the most get the most. I would agree that the current "Western" system seems to favor the producers too much, though.

-- Anonymous99 (, March 28, 1999.

In re-reading my post, let me say that the current Western system favors the "owners" and "managers" of the producers too much. Actually, producers are underpaid, in general.

I still-think that non-owners, non-managers and non-producers are overpaid, though (entitlement programs in US, for example). If charities want to help the poor, that is great, but forcing money to "donate" money (taxes) is going too far.

-- Anonymous99 (, March 28, 1999.

This verbiage isn't really about y2k at all. It's about a spiritually based new world order, in which 'traditional values' ensure fairness, justice, and mutual understanding. Appeals like this tend to be supported by those who have difficulty adapting to the accelerating rate of change.

If these traditional values were so robust and sustainable, where did they go? Interesting that Theobald's philosophy is being promulgated over the internet and by broadcast. He's taking proper advantage of the very technologies he thinks are our undoing.

How many here agree that their spiritual needs cannot be met in a computerized world?

-- Flint (, March 28, 1999.

Flint --- I do believe spiritual needs can be met in the midst of computerization (heck, that had better be true 'cuz even TEOTWAWKI, should it occur, ain't gonna end computerization). I like Wendell Berry's recognition that all of us are involved in a web of technology (Amish included) and we can't knee jerk our way out of it. In fairness, I don't know enough about this Theobald dude to know where he's coming at about that.

I've mentioned before Heidegger's essay on technology, shortly after WWII, where he alluded both to its inevitability and its (short-term) annilhilation of what used to be termed "thinking". Yet, though he was personally repulsed, he believed the world would have to pass through that experience before, just maybe, finding a way to choose its technologies. Whether that is a fifty or two-hundred year process remains to be seen.

We do, as a culture, seem largely to "suffer" or endure technology as victims of its apparent inevitability. It seems to me that a lot of Y2K denial about preparation falls exactly into that category as, by the way, does the thinking of those who foresee no future after Y2K. The "why" of that is of deep interest to me individually and as a citizen. I'm going to pick this up on another thread.

-- BigDog (, March 28, 1999.

To paraphrase someone else: broken computer code doesn't care about humanity, its problems, nor various social agendas.

Robt isn't the only one doing this, others are too. The technique is to polarize y2k into camps of 10's and 1's, then discount the 1's, then not address any of the severity ranges above 5, all the while piggybacking a particular social agenda onto "y2k" as "more important" - using popular, and perhaps even justified, fears associated with large scale human enterprises and global sustainability or ecology - all the while neglecting the actual y2k computer problem, or at least making it insignificant in light of the "opportunity" it presents.

y2k ain't a social problem, y2k ain't no environmental problem. Y2k, in the context most of "us" use it, is pure and simple, a software problem, which if not fixed to a degree of continued usability in the most critical systems of human life support, will indoubtedly spin off many problems, some possibly critical. Hence the need for CP's and Prep.

What have you done today to support your local Electrical Utility remediator?

-- Mitchell Barnes (, March 28, 1999.

Over the past two weeks without access to this forum I found the opportunity to read 'Ishmael' by Daniel Quinn that Ed Yourdon refers to. I also read 'The Story of B' by the same author which expands greatly upon 'Ishmael'.

I highly recommend both books. I couldn't get a hold of 'My Ishmael' but plan to as soon as I can.

I have to add that it was through this forum that I first became aware of these books.

Thank you all.

-- Carol (, March 28, 1999.

Yes- Y2k is a "code problem", but it is representative of more than that in my opinion. I think that much of the interest paid to TEOTWAWKI scenarios touch on this fact. I think that many people do know down deep within them that we are not functioning at a truly sustainable level in society. The level of inequeties is growing as well , between the "haves" and the "have-nots". Likewise, if third-world nations decided to emulate the US in its level of consumption.......

This said- I don't know if Y2K is actually a mechanism for social change or not. This has been one of my major interests in seeing how the whole thing plays out. There are so many areas that can be touched by y2k that lend themselves to change- possible topics include local economies, small scale production, local agriculture and distribution networks, reduction of urban/suburban sprawl, consumption levels and practices, job valuation (ie: why does a bonds trader make big bucks but a farmer earns peanuts?), and so much more.

I don't know however, if expecting Y2K to create massive social change is realistic. It would seem that to do so, the effects would need to be large and pervasive and serious.

So- I think there are two issues here- one is how to prevent as much suffering as possible to humans from y2k problems. The other, should probably view y2k as "the canary in the coal mine" and heed it as another warning. Then- those interested in making constructive change can attempt it. This does not need to shift energy from y2k preparedness at all. It goes way beyond this.

-- anita (, March 28, 1999.

Bob writes (as he always does, in one way or another):

"I have been intensively involved in the Y2K issue for a year."

This, one assumes, qualifies Bob as "in-tune" with the issue, implies he has given it much thought, and has...

"...realized in the last few weeks that it is too narrow a container for the work we have to do."

Yes yes yes. Y2K is not quite a big enough thing for us to deal with. We need a bigger recepticle for our immense intellects, collective vision, and ability to get gigantic, practical things done in amazingly short periods of time (which really doesn't exist). As a matter of fact, if we're thinking about Y2K we're actually thinking about the wrong thing because...

"It is no more than a warning sign showing the major changes in thinking that are required as we learn to live in a world where we must cooperate if we are to survive."

This points out that Y2K is merely a "symbol," a symptom, a pimple on an infinite expanse of skin, and it is that skin we need to be paying attention to, dealing with - cooperatively - if we want to survive. Again... If you're barking up the Y2K tree, you're making a mistake, being fooled, tricked. In addition to realizing that (before it's too late)...

"We must also stop organizing to achieve a machine-like socioeconomic system and learn to operate together as fallible human beings."

Sounds good, but what does that mean to Roy, fixing flat tires and doing tune-ups down at the gas station? Marcy who had a (successful) brain tumor operation last year, is now expecting a baby, and isn't even thinking about the too tiny container of y2k yet? Are they part of the robotic socioeconomic thing, or already in the fallible human being camp? Which would it be best to make them aware of, seeing as how there's no point in mentioning y2k to them because it's not the real issue?

But even if that is somewhat confusing (to the intellectually or visionarily challenged), the most important aspect of Bob's considered reflection on what it is everyone really ought to be doing (instead of thinking about y2k), is that he didn't forget to include the crucially important directions on how to achieve these more important objectives in the remaining 200 and whatever it is days:

"To do this, we must realize that our real needs are spiritual rather than materialistic."

So okay. Everyone got that? Y2k is not the problem, everyone involved in the practice should immediately cease "organizing to achieve a machine-like socioeconomic system," and start realizing.

And here you thought getting ready for the new millenium was some kind of complicated issue. Don't you feel foolish?

I'd love to stay and converse, but obviously, I've got to get back over to the chair by the window and get busier.

Cooperatively Spiritualized (and Loving it fearlessly)

P.S. I too will be having a series of satellite broadcasts coming up soon, but I choose not to date them because dates are trivial, false constructions designed to enslave us all to some false sense of organized robotic structure that has led to nothing but perfectionist- centric tyranny (and its big symptom - y2k, doncha know). I am also planning to forego the personally computerized aspects of that communications approach because it is simply too limited. I will be taking this approach instead (as soon as I'm sure my realization has been deep enough): I will, through consecutive, but unspecified nighttimes, be sleeping in my satellite dish so that my dreams will be broadcast all over the world. Let those with dishes and picture tubes see, those with high fidelity audio hear. Please be watching and listening.

P.P.S. Any replies to anything will not be forwarded to me by any of my followers because it would be pointless (even if I had followers - which I would not because I would refuse to associate with them on general principles). More importnatly, feedback is a meaningless waste of time in my world. I prefer to deal directly on a one-way basis. (Another purely selfless approach geared for optimal Flow Alignment.)

Realize on... (Because it can't hurt and because - all fun-poking aside - it's much better than being run ragged by fear.)

P.P.P.S. Sober up Bob. First things first. Unfortunately, it really is a computer problem.

-- Fernard (, March 28, 1999.

Euro-americans have been poisoning the continent for five hundred years. For about 475 of those years they managed just fine without computers. Their religion seems to be just as screwed up as in the pre-Wintel days.

It would be nice if y2k were to precipitate a new consciousness. I just dont think its a foregone conclusion.

-- le hunchbaque (, March 28, 1999.

As if I didn't need even more proof that humanity exists at far too many different levels, with regard to spiritual evolution, to get along peacefully. Thanks for the downer folks :^(

-- Bingo1 (, March 28, 1999.

Rapidly coming to the conclusion that societal transformation, or a global consciousness shift is a fix-on-failure proposition.

Yes, Y2K can be a lesson in fragility, interdependence and even resilliance. Looks like were going to find out, early next year, what works, what muddles through and what breaks. Perhaps, people will be willing to look at their lives and lifestyles and ask the same questions ... next year.

Some, this year, are asking those questions and getting ready for change. Not many, and not enough.

We have vested interests in the economic status quo, providing the Y2K counterpoint now (i.e. backlash) encouraging the bump philosophy, or at most, a three-day storm. I would hope they are right, however mounting evidence suggests theyre very wrong. The truth is, we wont KNOW until we go through it. Sometimes you just have to go straight through the middle of a problem, to reach the other side, in order to collect your wisdom points.

Y2K is not a one-size fits all, scenario. Neither is transformation. Its all local and depends on the people gathering together to make a difference in their interconnected lives. Often, its triggered by events or life experiences, that cause a desire for change.

Perhaps, Y2K will be that trigger. Perhaps not.

Our planet and its systemically troubled eco-systems will have other get it lessons, waiting for us in the wings, I suspect.

You build something new, a piece at a time, often from the rubble of the past. May we all learn to be architects of a peaceful, sustainable future. And learn our lessons well. Eventually.


-- Diane J. Squire (, March 29, 1999.

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