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Several weeks ago, I introduced readers to Alan Dechert, the man
behind the immodest cause of resetting our global calendars to the Year
Zero in 2000.

I fear Dechert has received even more publicity due to my column –
so much, in fact, that he wrote to me to straighten me out about his
intentions.

“I enjoyed this article,” he writes. “Many people I know also got a
big charge out of
it — perhaps not the kind of praise you’d like to get, but many found
it entertaining at least.”

So far, so good. I always aim to be entertaining. But Dechert is hurt
by the fact that I suggested it was “some nut” who came up with this
nutty idea. For this, I apologize. I’m sure Dechert is not a nut, just
extremely misguided.

More bad news. He informs me that his idea is taking off. And I
believe him.

“The first television appearance of the Global Era Calendar will be
filmed next week,” he gushes.

He also assures me that he is not at all concerned about the Y2K bug.
Governments, businesses and ordinary people around the world may be
fretting about it, but it’s not Dechert’s concern. He’s got a much
bigger goal in mind than presenting a solution to a problem some fear
may cause global chaos. Dechert’s plan is about equity, fairness,
eliminating Christo-centrism and chauvinism, etc.

But don’t get him wrong. Even though his idea has been embraced by
radical secularist Paul Kurtz, the leader of the world’s humanists, it
is not an “anti-Christian” plot.

“What if a Muslim walked up to you at a street corner and said, ‘I
don’t like this year-numbering system (pointing to the date in the
newspaper),’” he asks rhetorically. “‘It is anti-Islam. It seeks to
eradicate the power of Allah and Mohammed.’ … In other words, YZ is
about inclusivity — not exclusivity.”

Though he doesn’t see the movement as an “us versus them” issue, he
does think the Global Era Calendar symbolizes unity of the various
religions in the world.

“This does not mean erasing our differences, but acknowledging the
things we have in common,” he writes. “It would show a willingness to
agree on something — if only a symbolic something. Let’s bring them all
to the table. They’ll all have to leave something
behind, however. But this interreligious cooperation is sorely needed if
we are to make substantial progress in solving the world’s pressing
problems.”

Though Dechert decries chauvinism, he’s pretty proud of his little
movement. He thinks it will catch on. And he’ll be happy to take the
credit when it does.

“I began, back in April, sending my Global Era Calendar package out
to all heads-of-state.” he writes. “I expect to have this mailing
completed soon. If one government or another adopts the Global Era
Calendar Resolution or it gets introduced at the U.N., it will happen
because I initiated the process.”

You can bank on that one, friends. This is an idea whose time has
come. Once again, I reiterate what I wrote in the column that so amused
Dechert: There are many people in this world who would love to eliminate
the year-numbering system based on the life of Jesus Christ. They would
do this not to unify, but to divide.

Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t heard any clamoring from Muslims
to change the calendar. Muslims, it may surprise Dechert to learn,
revere Jesus Christ as a great prophet. Any thinking person — believer
or not — would have to acknowledge the immense impact His life has had
on the course of history, on mankind’s last 2,000 years. One thing most
everyone in the world can agree with is that we live in the year 1998.
Only those with a suspect religious and political agenda would seek to
give the world one more testy debate.

“The script for this play is a living document,” Dechert concludes.
“The Bible isn’t much use here but it does get involved because many are
referring to it so that they will know what to do. We are collectively
writing the script as we go along. But there is no doubt that we are now
on the final act of this particular story. The Grand Finale holds some
twists, turns and surprises! It should be fun!”

There’s an ancient Chinese curse that goes: “May you live in
interesting times.” I don’t know how much fun we’ll be having in the
next two years as we grapple with scandal in the White House, the Y2K
crisis and a world on the nuclear brink, but, once again, I predict we
have not heard the last of this Year Zero idea. Even Dechert agrees with
me on that much.

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