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Happy New Year, then and now

20 years ago, the world faced an interesting challenge: the millennium. Apparently, some software programs could not handle the technical shift from 1999 to the year 2000. It was the result of programmers saving space by shortening year dates to 2 digits—99 instead of 1999. I distinctly remember the fear and the media buzzing about the possibilities of pending disaster. Electronics of all kinds would stop working, planes would fall from the sky, people would die. I was amazed how this projection of tragedy spread so quickly. As one headline suggested, "Are we headed for a global Y2K crisis?" I spoke to someone in a store who said he was going to go camping out in the hills for a couple weeks over the new year to remain safe.

Meanwhile, there were many who did not feel or focus on the possibility of gloom and doom but they didn’t get the air time. I was in that camp because, like today, I believe the pandemic is ushering in a time of tremendous change. It’s extending a hand across the globe encouraging partnerships to address common issues.

Twenty years ago I wrote (Y2k is Time to Celebrate Possibilities, Honolulu Star-Bulletin 1999) about some of the challenges we had faced—triumphantly—in the previous decades. We had walked on the moon, brought down the Berlin Wall, found the Titanic, peered into distant galaxies, cured the incurable, and put an unbelievable amount of information on a tiny computer chip. We had done the impossible! We deserved more trust.

I wrote that there was a stream of negativity out there that, if we're not careful, would drag us off into a field of hopelessness. When we feed the fear and fear the worst, we turn away from the goodness we seek. Truth is, that goodness — kind acts, thoughtful words and deeds, expressions of love — is everywhere, all the time. We can choose to see it, receive it and share it. It's like tossing a pebble into a pond: our expression, whether positive or negative, reaches out into our world. If more people focus their awareness on what's good and possible, negative statistics will decrease. It’s not magic. It’s math. The more we focus on what we want to see in the world, the more our environment changes. People feel safer, are kinder to each other. That kindness, which may have started from you, comes back to you. A circle of life. Energy in motion.

Back then it was about crossing over into a new millennium—a transition in man-made time. Today, regardless of how you feel about the pandemic and other global challenges, it’s encouraging us to question our health, our outlook, and level of trust. It’s calling us to stand up for what we believe in while respecting other’s right to do the same. It’s begging us to listen, see, and understand. It’s a huge lesson in opposites because while we wait for updates, follow the guidelines, and make lots of adjustments we can also be encouraging, nurturing and celebrating all that's right in the world. We can still appreciate others' spirit, potential, creativity, and resoursefulness. Look around and know we are surrounded by some amazing people, doing some amazing things. Believe in solutions, for belief is what helps us find them. Imagine the wealth of opportunities just around the corner.

Some didn’t understand my attitude back then, but they didn’t know that my positive outlook was because I had been to the "dark side." I lived in an environment filled with fear, which led to a focus only on surviving the terror: compromising, hiding, pretending, and going along with whatever they wanted while hoping they would change and that the madness would stop—day after day. So I know that being fear-full only creates more fear.