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The Larger Significance of Y2K

by Micah Rubenstein

As each day goes by, we hear more and more about the “Y2K Computer Bug.” On February 24th, Knight Ridder Newspapers printed a story based on a draft of a report from a special Senate committee’s investigation into the status of government and business preparations for potential Y2K disruptions. Committee Chairman Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) and Vice-Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) wrote: “The committee has no data to suggest that the United States will experience nationwide social or economic collapse, but we believe that disruptions will occur that in some cases will be significant. The international situation will be more disturbing. Those who suggest that it will be nothing more than a ‘bump in the road’ are simply misinformed.”

What is the Y2K problem?
Years ago when computers were first being developed, computer memory was limited and expensive. It was to the programmers’ advantage to input as little data as necessary for the software to run efficiently. One of the items that was abbreviated in order to save space was the date: “1950” was encoded as “50.” This system of abbreviation is fine for operating in the 20th century. But once we enter the year 2000, which is abbreviated as “00,” computers might read the date as “1900.”

How long have we known about this? Computer programmers identified the problem back in the 1950’s. However, most organizations did not want to allocate the money necessary to reprogram their new and expensive computer systems. The millennium was almost 50 years away... Why bother now?

So what is the problem? Basically, if a computer believes the year 2000 is really 1900, one of two things might happen: it could stop running or it might make miscalculations.

What does this mean in practical terms? Say you are receiving a regular pension check. January 1, 2000 rolls around, and the computer tracking your data now thinks it is January 1, 1900. It might shut down (or enter what computer programmers call an “infinite loop”which can only be canceled by shutting down the computer), since it will not be able to make sense of counting from 1999 to 1900. Or if it miscalculates, the computer might cancel your payment (and eligibility to receive your pension), since, as far as its internal calendar is concerned, you haven’t been born yet! In either case, the same result might happen: you won’t get your check. And, to add insult to injury, if the computer starts miscalculating, you might find yourself receiving a bill demanding return (with interest penalties) of all the prior payments made to you over the years, since, again according to the computer’s internal calendar, you have received money to which you are not entitled (remember, the computer calculates that you haven’t been born yet...)

To a rational person, such a scenario justifiably seems silly, and would not pose much of a problem if it happened to just a few people. But there is the potential for this scenario to be the case for millions of individuals who depend on a monthly pension check. In this event, problems arise since processing that many payments by hand would take a very long time, certainly longer than a month, at which point the next payment would be due.

A simple solution would be to install new software that is Y2K compliant, reentering all the data for each recipient. Again, this isn’t a problem if we’re talking about a few people. The reality, though, is that billions of lines of data would need to be re-entered by hand.

And this is just the pension plan system. What about Medicare, Social Security, Savings Accounts, Insurance payments, etc? Our finances are stored in a veritable “ocean” of date-sensitive computer code. Imagine how long it would take to empty this ocean of its water one bucket at a time, and replace it with new water (one bucket at a time...)

Unfortunately, the problem is even larger, since date-sensitive computer software is a component of much more than financial systems. Transportation systems rely on it, as do communications, food and goods distribution systems, satellites, military equipment, and water and nuclear power plants. Every one of these systems (vulnerable to Y2K) is fixable: the problem is there are so many of them at risk at the exact same time.

Is there a larger significance to Y2K?
If there are computer interruptions, it is reasonable to expect that we may experience disruptions in our daily, physical circumstances. The extent of the possible disruptions is unknown. “Self-reporting” from organizations, and the complexity of the interconnectedness of electronic systems, are two of the factors influencing the elusive nature of being able to predict what will happen. But even if Y2K poses no threat whatsoever, the current discussions about it can be viewed as a help, if we see this potential difficulty as a warning or “red flag,” alerting us to concerns on another level.

Abd-ru-shin, author of In the Light of Truth: The Grail Message, offers the following insights from a lecture written over 60 years ago, titled, Symbolism in the Fate of Man:

“If men were not so entirely absorbed in the necessities and many trivialities of every-day life, but would also pay some attention to and observe more closely both the great and small happenings around them, they would soon come to a new understanding. They would be astonished at themselves, and hardly believe it possible that up till now they could so thoughtlessly have overlooked something so obvious!”

“And there is every reason why they should sorrowfully shake their heads at themselves! If they were only a little observant a whole world of strictly-ordered, living happenings would suddenly reveal itself to them, enabling them clearly to recognize the stern guidance of a higher Handthe world of symbolism!”

“Have we been and will we be observant enough to recognize and understand these “strictly ordered, living happenings?”

We all know the saying, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” These words express an eternal, unbending Law in Creation that whatever you send outbe it thought, word, or deedwill return to you in similar kind. This begs the question: What have we sent out into this world through the development and seemingly “unchecked use” of computer technology, and what will be returned to us as the fulfillment of the great and simple Law of Reciprocal Action?

Each person must explore this question for himself or herself. For me, I think of how, in almost every aspect of our daily lives, we have unconditionally embraced technological advancement for the pursuit of earthly things at the expense of fulfilling our primary purpose on earth: spiritual development. And did we consider how some uses of this advancement might be disharmonious with Nature and the underlying Laws of Creation.

Now that we are on the brink of a new millennium and potential massive change, how will we address our fate?

It is my hope that we will address it by recognizing the Laws underlying that fate and by firmly resolving to live by them.

Micah D. Rubenstein is the General Manager of Grail Foundation Press ([email protected]). The work quoted in this article, In the Light of Truth, is available at your local bookstore, or directly from the publisher by calling 1-800-427-9217.

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