Getting It Right - Answers To The Arguments
The year 2000 is something to celebrate in it's own right, and there's no need to tag on any more signifigance to the year. The real problem is that everyone is saying that the three new divisions of our timekeeping start in 2000 -- there is a difference between celebrating the millennium, and the actual time it arrives.
The epitome of this hype, or ignorance, comes from the first page of the book The Century, written by Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster. The very first sentence of the introduction states what we all know to be true: "This work is an examination of life in the one-hundred-year period known as the twentieth century ...." The next paragraph begins: "When did the twentieth century begin? One may argue, and many will, that the 'twentieth century' of history began not in 1901, but in 1870, when the Age of Invention started ...." The same paragraph ends: "... the twentieth century began in 1901 and will end on December 31, 1999." I ask you to do the math, does this equal 100 years?
Anyone viewing old records of newspapers during 1900 and 1901 will find that very little, if any, mention is made about the turn of the century in 1900. It is not until 1901 that the media of the time, the newspapers, touted the dawn of the 20th Century. The controversy is not new, but the educated who actually cared about the turn of a century (from the time that this recognition became important) the side of right, and simple mathematics, always prevailed -- the turn did not occur until the "01" year. It is only the result of the commercialism and "television (instant gratification) mentality" of the 20th Century, that we have suddenly lost a year from the definition of a century and millennium.
During my conversations with the many people on the net (Millennium Debates), through Letters, and in person, many of the arguments I get for Y2K equates the way we count years with the same way we count birthdays; that the calendar is a convention of mankind; that since the years are wrong any way, we should make a year zero, or just ignore our basic mathematics, and so on. Another one is: What does it matter? One year is the same as any other, so who cares?
Let me answer the last comment first. It would certainly make a difference if our schools began to teach our children that the American Revolution began in 1876, instead of 1776. The same principle applies here. It may have been a long time ago, but it is important to us to learn the correct date of our American history. Why then, is such a nonchalant attitude taken towards the date of the millennium? Both events are related - they involve a starting date of an event that has affected our lives for decades and centuries! If we start to ignore things like this because it doesn't suit our time frames, or is inconvenient to what we really desire, how long before we start to ignore the more critical events? If we don't care about teaching our children true facts, why bother educating them at all? Why bother complaining about the educational system in the US or try improving it?
As for the others, maybe we should change things around so the years line up with the correct date of Christ's birth, or at least the best guess we have now. But then that would mean the millennium and century celebrations have already passed us by. Plus, trying to adopt a new calendar at this point is nearly impossible -- I remind everyone of the proposed World Calendar from 1961. It has been a more accurate calendar than any in use now, but it has yet to receive any support. In regards to year zero, see the Zero page for more details about that particular pseudo-number. As for having Christ's birth year redubbed zero, let's remember that December is not his actual birth date. Most researchers agree (more fervently and reliably than on his birth year) that Christ was born in March, making that year more than qualify for 1 AD status -- the First Year of our Lord. As it is though, Dionysius felt that starting his system on the first New Year's after his church accepted birth date to have been fine, and so do I. (The Bibliography page has more about this)
One of my favorites is "It's our world now, so if we want to make the new millennium begin in 2000, we can." So that means that none of us ever have to work again. After all, what's the point to doing anything constructive today, whether it be write a book, build a house, or attempt to bring world peace about, if tomorrow's generation decides that they want to do something else and our efforts are meaningless? Why not then celebrate America's Independence Day on March 4th so the kids can have another day off from school? After all, it's been more than 220 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so what does the real date matter anymore?
As for birthdays, they count the time that is, and has passed. When we count years in our calendar, we dub the entire year, January to December, as the same year. When a baby is born, it is not 1 year old until a year after that date, but from the day it emerges from the womb until that same date one year later, it's the FIRST YEAR of that baby's life. Just like 1999 is the One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety-ninth Year of the AD system, 1,999 years won't have PASSED until December 31, 1999 comes to a close.
As for the calendar and chronology being a man-made convention. I find this to be a completely idiotic statement. Of course they are man-made conventions -- what else would they be? Like anything else in our lives, these "conventions" help us to keep an ordered society. Timekeeping and calendars are a necessity if we are to survive as a species. Ever since man learned to plant and grow food, we have needed a way of keeping track of time so we can keep ourselves fed.
In regards to how the calendar works, such as the 10 days dropped in the 18th Century, Leap Years, and all the other myriad corrections since the calendar was created, these too are man-made conventions necessary to keep the calendar aligned with the true solar year. They have no effect on when the millennium begins, because they make sure, according to the calendar, it actually takes place at the right time. It is only without these adjustments would the true date of the millennium, and the point we are now at on the calendar that everything would be wrong -- we could actually be celebrating Christmas in the middle of the summer without these corrections!! Remember -- the true solar and tropical years are slowing down with the passing of time, so any means of quantifying this amount of time will HAVE to be corrected at one point or another to keep it aligned with the true year.
Answers To The Argument -- You're Here!
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