n our MTV culture, image and the moment are everything. Context and history are
usually ignored. The approaching end of the millennium, however, provides an
impetus for us to step back and reconsider history, to take stock of where we
stand and how we got here. That is why THE WORLD & I launched a 16-part series,
starting with September 1998 issue and running through December 1999, examining
the most significant developments of the past millennium in order to better
understand our world today.
People in the year 1000, wherever they lived, had no concept of a world of
unfolding and multiplying possibilities. Tradition ruled, and material
circumstances were tightly constrained. What hopes of change people held rested
largely in the life hereafter, depending on their religious faith. This picture
changed only gradually through the first half of the millennium. During the
second half, the pace of change began to pick up and has continued to quicken
right up to the present.
Our series is entitled “Millennial Moments,” but strictly speaking we will be
talking about millennial processes, highlighted by key events and characters,
with an emphasis on their consequences, particularly how they have helped make
our world what it is today. We will examine both transformations that have
changed our material environment—such as the scientific and Industrial
revolutions—and those that have changed our way of thinking about ourselves and
our place in the world: the rise of limited government or the Reformation and
its consequences are examples.
Through this series we hope to promote a better understanding of how and how
much the world has changed in the past millennium and how those changes have
made us who we are. Through such understanding we believe that we will be better
able to consider future change and evaluate more clearly the question, Change
Read "The Emergence of a Global Society" for full introduction.