Whether you are of any faith or none, in most countries of the world you will be counting years according to the Common Era (CE). Until recently this was almost universally called Anno Domini (AD), Latin for "In the year of our Lord".
Christians may not, today, be so happy with the history of military and imperial domination which has ensured the adoption of this Christian numbering. Members of other faiths may be even less happy. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the "2000" has been counted from an ancient best estimate of the date of the birth of Jesus Christ. Probably an inaccurate estimate; and one that has been re-estimated from both historical and astronomical details given in the Gospels with varying results. But that is the origin of the Year 2000!
But there is another way of counting which is much older than Christianity. In Old Testament times, years went in cycles of seven. At the end of seven cycles of seven there was a special year – the Year of Jubilee. In this fiftieth year, debts were cancelled. Family land which had had to be sold to meet debts was given back. In modern terms, I guess we would say that such sales were viewed as leasehold, not freehold.
The poorest people of the world are crippled with debt. Much of it has its origins in colonial economic exploitation. Corruption and locally driven over-exploitation hasn't helped, but the West often exploits these traits for its own short-term benefit rather than genuinely helping to haul people out of poverty. Desperate situations breed desperate acts, and it's out of such situations that terrorism grows. We do not condone it; but unless we understand, there is no chance at all that we can become part of the solution.
Poor countries pay more to Western pockets in loan interest than they receive in none-too-generous aid. And the aid often has strings attached anyway. Jubilee 2000 called for these debts to be set aside. It was an international campaign operating in all countries of the world – rich and poor.
Jubilee 2000 wound down; in fact its web address has been taken over by a very dubious service (no, no links!!). However, the UK's Jubilee 2000 organisation became Jubilee Research, and is still working. You can help!
Return to Pocket Website