Let me take you back to late in the evening of December 31st 1999 – New Year's Eve. Can you remember where you were and what you were doing? Were you out on the town celebrating the end of the second millennium and welcoming in the year 2000 or were you in the comfort of your home watching the telecasting of how the rest of the world were celebrating the advent of the year 2000 and the passing of The most dangerous and difficult century of man's existence. The 20th Century saw mannish survive two world wars and the threat of a nuclear holocaust.
Despite these celebrations, the year 2000 was born in the middle of a crisis – a crisis caused by the so called Y2K bug and dire predictions that the world would end. The crisis was still-born, but it serves to remind us that the business of life must go on.
The year 2000 is the start of something special – the third millennium and we must take this opportunity to use the year 2000 as the motivation for change and as a stimulus to hasten man's progress towards a better world.
We can not change yesterday
We can only make the most of today
And look forward with hope for the future.
The message of the Y2K bug and the predictions of the world's demise is simply this:
Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections
And difficulties must first be overcome.
Had the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Olympians of the 2000 games waited until the crisis was over, then the remarkable success that was the Sydney Olympics would never have been achieved. (Opportunities always involve some risks. Remember: "You'll always miss 100% of the shots you do not take.")
The Sydney Olympics and the Catholic Church's Jubilee 2000 initiatives are examples of how mankind has grasped the opportunity of using the year 2000 as a rallying point to improve the world for all manankind.
The AOC, Sydney and the New South Wales Government saw an opportunity to make a bold bid for the Year 2000 Olympic Games, way back in the early 1990's. There were many risks and barriers involved in this venture. Success was never a foregone conclusion. The costs of the bid and the staging of the games were intense. The position of our country "down under" and the political implications of the bid by the Chinese People's Republic were almost insurmountable hurdles to our success.
Getting the games was not enough. Creating the best ever Olympics was the goal. So Sydney got world class sporting facilities early and a new infrastructure to allow the games to run smoothly.
For me, the crowning glory of the Year 2000 Olympics was the Opening Ceremony. The tracing of our aboriginal and European heritages using a "dreamtime" theme did what the politicians were unwilling or unable to do. It joined a nation together creating a real climate of reconciliation. Then the climax of the Opening Ceremony was the inspired choice of Cathy Freeman to light the cauldron, with the Olympic Flame. Later in the Games the fairytale came true when Cathy, in front of a record Olympic crowd, won Australia's 100th Gold Medal in the 400 meters sprint. Television took this event live to Australia's biggest audience and to many billions around the world. What a coup !!!
There are some who might ask, "How did the world benefit from the Year 2000 Games?" The Olympics brought together people of every political, religious and racial background in a spirit of friendship that is the very nature of true sportsmanship. A great banner unfurled during the Opening Ceremony contained the words, "G'Day" for all to see. This typifies an openness that was sponsored by the way we Aussies look at life and sport. Sports unites Australia and has been used here as a catalyst to bring the world closer together and it has!
The Olympic organizers of the 2000 games had a dream; They believed in and dared to make it happen. We, too, can have a dream, a dream to improve mankind in the year 2000. All we need is to believe in that dream and dare to make it happen.
The Catholic Church in its wisdom has taken the opportunity that the Year 2000 offers to champion the cause of the world's rejected. In every church, the Jubilee 2000 project is highlighted by a great white banner hung high on the front wall. On the top of the banner is the Jubilee 2000 logo. It consist of a multicolored Greek cross – a cross made from 3 vertical and 3 horizontal rods. This is superimposed on a blue circle which represents mankind. The central white area representing Christ is surrounded by a tessellation of 5 stylized doves in the colors of gray, red, yellow, blue and green. These doves represent the five continents of our world while the colors symbolize peace and joy.
Below the logo are written, in bold letters, the six goals of Jubilee 2000: Freedom, Fallow, Forgiveness, Justice, Journey and Jubilation.
These goals have their origin in Jewish tradition and are to be found in the book of Leviticus in the Bible's Old Testament.
Freedom means freedom for prisoners, particularly prisoners of debt.
Fallow is for the land and the people. In Jewish tradition, the land was laid fallow every seven years. Fallow for the people were holy days. Today these have become our holidays – a time of rest and reinvigoration.
Forgiveness of debt, especially of third world countries, is an important goal because the interest on these debts is many times greater than the debt itself.
Justice means equal opportunity for all under the law irrespective of your background.
The goal Journey many seem strange to many Australians. But it means that exiles should be able to return to their homeland to live in peace.
The final goal is Jubilation or simply the gratitude we should feel for all we have been given on this earth.
The dominant theme for the world of the Jubilee 2000 project is not bounded by a religious fence but by a desire to help the world's neglected, irrespective of color, race or creed. If those of us who are not presumed believe in the ideals of Jubilee 2000 we should allow the Year 2000 to be the catalyst to improve mankind. We do not need to be Catholics. We need only to remember:
"All things are possible to those who believe."
At the bottom of the banner is a second logo which links the project to Australia. Here there is a stylized map of Australia with the words "A new era for an ancient land". The map is surrounded by a brown circle and a red and white Greek cross is superimposed on the circle. Thus the logo links us to the world but also to the theme of reconciliation through the aboriginal colors of red, brown and yellow.
The Year 2000 has provided Australians with the opportunity to make a difference. The success of the Sydney Olympics has shown what Australians can do. The jubilee 2000 project provides us with a way to use our creative energies for the reminder of the year 2000 and beyond. There is no better place to start than in our backyard working to improve the lot of our declined. The Olympic Opening Ceremony provided the platform for reconciliation. Let us Australians take the opportunity created by the year 2000 to show the world what can be done.
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