I was commissioned to write this book in 1997 but the publishers decided against publication part way through the process. They found that the Millennium was not going to be sensational for book sales.
"Try to realise it’s all within yourself
No one else can make you change
And to see you’re really only very small
And life goes on within you and without you..."
- George Harrison, 1967.
The Millennium comes upon us as something of a surprise. Its arrival catches us unawares. It asks us to raise our eyes above the humdrum round of ‘business as usual’. Things have changed so much during the Twentieth Century: how will they change in the Twenty-First?
Globally, many people are aware that things aren’t really right – whether or not we admit it. Many wonderful things have happened in recent centuries, yet modern times have also brought hardships, pain and side-effects which now demand urgent attention.
Many people quietly worry about the kind of a world we are leaving our grandchildren. Yet we also wish to avoid making life more costly, complex and difficult.
"Perhaps the problem might go away... someone might solve it. In their own backyard, of course... And we shouldn’t take too many risks. Anyway, if I rock the boat myself, I might be singled out. You see, I would welcome change, yet I’ve kinda given up on it. Besides, who knows where to start?!"
The Millennium surreptitiously pushes us to re-examine such daunting matters – big challenges edge ever closer, impinging on our daily lives.
It would be easiest to have a big global Millennium party – the ultimate spectacular – and then go home and restore normality. After all, jobs and prosperity are at risk! Anyway, thinking longterm loses money and votes – or at least, it did so in the Twentieth Century.
Yet what’s special about the Millennium is that it tantalises us with the promise – or the threat – of the future. It dangles decades and centuries in front of us. The far future looks strangely vague and unimaginable, except in science fiction terms. It is obscured by stormy clouds we quietly anticipate in the shorter-term future.
To look forward in time, it helps to assess the present, to step outside it, to stop the world and take a look. To understand today’s world it helps to survey our history: what lessons can be learned, and which wheels need no re-invention? What shall we take into the future and what shall we leave behind?
We’re confronted with an enormous Big Picture. This is tricky: information flies at us daily in little bits. Many issues need grasping – including things we don’t want to look at.
Nowadays, there seem to be no neat, simple answers left. Many and intricate have been the visions and ideologies we humans have dallied with across the centuries – and much is the trouble that has been caused by them too. We’re now left standing with little to hold on to. What should we believe? Will someone please tell me what’s happening around here? Do we live in the same universe?
The Millennium brings a rumble of.... what? Celebration? Foreboding? Hope? A wobbly feeling of being on the edge of a threshold?
Can we choose our future, or does it just happen? Do we really have any influence, or is it up to politicians, fat-cats, secret governments, God, fate or just chance? Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen...
It’s probably true: nobody has The Big Answer about the future. Some profess to have it, but there’s a hollowness to many of the simple answers given out today. The Big Solution is unlikely to be handed to us on a plate – we’ve done that in the past, and it didn’t seem to work. We were given God, Progress and Socialism, and look what we did with them!
Strangely, there’s something wonderful about our situation: we’re all so different, yet today we’re more than ever in the same boat! And up against the wall.
The future is open. Whatever your position or condition, you play a part in evolving whatever is coming. Everyone does. May this book help you play your part. Whatever that is.
The Illustrated Guide to the Millennium
© Copyright Palden Jenkins 1998, 2012.
This material may be downloaded, printed out in single copies for personal use
and quoted in parts with proper attribution and a link to this site.
All other uses require permission of the author, Palden Jenkins.
The Illustrated Guide to the Millennium was partially written in 1997-98 and never published