I sincerely hope that the turn of the millennium will pass without incident, and that all the anxiety and concern that surrounds Y2K will amount to nothing more than a tempest in a teapot. No one really knows what will happen come Y2K, least of all me.
Still, I do believe in being prepared. It's just good, common sense to prepare for the unexpected, whether it be a natural disaster, like floods, fires, earthquakes and tornadoes, or a man-made catastrophe. We don't know whether or not the anticipated computer problems will cascade into social disruptions, but, as the New York Times editorialized last August, 'It makes sense to prepare for the worst.'
Once people start taking the Y2K problem seriously they immediately begin thinking about how to take care of their loved ones and especially their family and friends. This is natural and normal and right. Just as the airlines remind passengers before every flight to 'place the oxygen mask securely over your own face before assisting small children,' it's proper to begin preparing your home before you organize your entire neighborhood.
Nonetheless, remember Paloma O'Riley's words, 'The best security you have is a prepared neighbor.' Treat your neighbor like family, as best you can, and treat the rest of the world like your neighborhood. Become a public citizen, and insist that officials in every sector create and communicate Y2K contingency plans. Start or join a community preparedness group (see Cassandra Project listing in 'Resources'). Contact elected officials and insist they pass legislation like the 'Citizens Y2K Financial Protection Act.' And finally, become the kind of person you'd want helping you in times of need: knowledgeable, compassionate, secure, available, willing to work hard, attentive to the needs of others, emotionally balanced, with a wacky sense of humor fully intact.
Now that you know more about the Y2K issue and have read some ideas about how to prepare, you face a choice. According to contributor Tom Atlee, 'The choice goes like this:
'a) We can step out of our own personal business-as-usual so we can respond really creatively to this situation, or,
'b) We can wait until the situation is worse and we have less time, fewer resources, and more chaos, with barely enough energy to keep our heads above water.'
So go ahead, start now. The things you'll do to prepare yourself and your community for Y2K will lead to the kind of fearless, engaged, connected and committed life you really want to live anyway.
Y2K Citizen's Action Guide is funded by generous individual and foundation donors. It is one of several community-organizing, education, and awareness initiatives we're contemplating. If you'd like to help us with a tax-deductible contribution, send checks (and suggestions for worthy Y2K causes) made out to the 'Citizens League/Y2K,' and mail it to: Y2K Project, c/o The Citizens League, 708 S. 3rd Street, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55415.
If you want help organizing your community, contact The Cassandra Project (http://www.cassandraproject.org/home.html).
If you find that your area has no community preparedness groups yet, and you'd like to start one, send an email to Webpals, an organization that connects people interested in Y2K, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web page is at www.webpal.org/list.htm.