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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 10:02 GMT
Sum up the century
What phrase best captures the 20th Century? What words distil the essence of 100 eventful and dramatic years?
It was a century of inventions: of weapons of mass destruction and cures for terrible diseases.
It was a time of horrific wars but also greater international co-operation; of historic movements of people and information; of unprecedented prosperity and appalling poverty and starvation.
Overall, a time which perhaps saw more change in the lives of more people than any preceding century in history.
So how do you sum up the 20th Century? Some of the thousands of emails we have received already are here.
The only thing we can learn from history
is that people never learn anything from
An age of computing
and cloning, of famine and liposuction. A century of major technological advances, but not without major fears
of its consequences.
"You've Got Mail"
The age of innovation, prosperity and wisdom. We need this to go into the next.
With apologies to Mao Zi Dong - it is too early to adequately know the true effect of this incredible century - maybe in three hundred years we will appreciate exactly what it meant
The rise and fall of super powers at the cost of precious human lives.
In our efforts to communicate with the world-universe, we forgot how to communicate with our heart.
Technology makes our world smaller every moment.
It shows us that there's still so much to learn, to wonder at, and to find out from each other.
Let's be more tolerant of each other's views and beliefs and grow in harmony. At the end of the day, all the prettiness really amounts to nothing.
Usurping some of President Kennedy's words..."Ask not what your world can do for you. Ask what YOU can do for the World."
The 20th century is an age of information overload, greedy market speculation, cloning and chronic shortage of food.
An epoch of the making and breaking of the greatest empires in history
Pride, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, avarice and sloth.
Giant steps for a few individuals, happily trampling on the rights of the majority.
A 100 years of
My phrase would be:
Way to go, EARTH!!!
Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap
clap clap clap clap
clap clap clap clap
...and all those days, the sun rose...
While technology has advanced, morality has not kept pace;
humanity's challenges change but they will never diminish;
we face the same horrors today as we did yesterday and will tomorrow.
A century of contradictions: unparalleled technological and material progress accompanied by equally great spiritual and moral retrogression. In sum an age of social Darwinism.
What's up doc!!!!
Never more was our ambition greater than our humility.
Did it have to cost the Earth?
To quote Arthur C. Clark "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." No kidding!
Too much information. Too little understanding.
A hundred years' incredible performance where we created the stage and acted!
It's been 100 years of selfishness, sophistication and expensive miscommunication. Ten decades of the exploitation of the ephemeral. One century that has disguised our loneliness and ignorance. I really don't know if it's any different to previous centuries; the game seems to be the same, only the tools have changed. I hope the next millennium will be much better.
Can this exhausting century really be summed up in a sentence? There are so many things to remember.
How about considering the fact that man has created enough pain and suffering to last forever?
Yet we can be sure that in this new and 'mature' century, "things can only get better".
It is the beginning of the end, the damage we have caused is irreversible.
Every thing that we learn shows us how little we truly know.
We gained the ability to reach for our highest ideals, but often embraced barbarism. We enter the 21st Century with that choice. We can set free or we can enslave.
Some get all, and some get none.
The century the world got smaller and the Information Age arrived.
Man's blind strive towards
knowledge & materialism, one
step closer towards
Utopia, or annihilation.
As many have said - the best of times, the worst of times. We had the worst atrocities (numerous attempts at genocide, for example) and the greatest advancements (elimination of many diseases and global communication and transportation for example) - hopefully we can have more of the latter and less of the former in the future.
The "20th century" is a man made phenomenon. We shape time and space now. Look around you. We are masters of ALL we create. Define the 20th century? It was up to us. Look around you and see yourself in the time we inhabit. Define the century; define yourself.
"Hurry tomorrow, we need you now" as quoted from a song by the Temptations.
This century mostly belongs to villains, dictators, democratic hypocrites, militants, terrorists, imperialists and a very little goes for the conscious politicians like Winston Churchill and scientists like Albert Einstein.
What goes around, comes around.
Adam Smith's century
The soup of life thickens!
S.T. Jan, Malaysia
The Century of Sound Bites!
The 20th Century was a period of development and learning, when the human race took some hard lessons. May the teachings of those lessons be applied in the 21st, for all our sakes.
During the 20th Century, Civilisation went through a period of adolescence and eventually came of age. Look for some maturity during the 21st Century.
Michael Davis, UK
"Failure of the UN, Murder of Justice & Survival of Veto" Result; International Terrorism
A century of machine computation and compilation, of a rigged market and arms competition and the evolution of a single global hegemony, after a fully-fledged experimentation with multiple social and political ideologies.
Unweaving the Rainbow - Richard Dawkins
It seems as though we've crested the "hill" of our time; rolling down at a far greater rate of speed than we climbed. This is mankind's eleventh hour and the universe will not mourn us when we've gone. They probably thought the same thing at Y1K, though.
We lost our moral compass this century. Ten billion illiterate, five billion homeless and in abject poverty, a billion dead by starvation, half a billion dead by preventable disease, 200 million by war. The new gods of science, technology, and profit did not seem to care as life deteriorated for the majority.
The Century of Technology. The Century of WW1 & WWII. The Century of Love and Hate. Overall we got some, but we lost too much!!
In the last 100 years people have created amazing technology. Only to have that technology destroy morals, family values, and small countries.
The north/south divide getting more entrenched everyday. Unimaginable riches, unimaginable poverty, what is there to celebrate or to gloat about?
" C20 - A new beginning, but the same old end". Humanity remains the contradiction of good and evil.
"The best of times;
the worst of times"¿.again!
This was the century where mankind has nigh-on destroyed the rainforests. Now we're going to pay for it with freak weather conditions! So, well done mankind!
The century when The Enlightenment flowered in The Holocaust. From American genocide in Guatemala to The Killing Fields, we have painted our moral bankruptcy in blood.
Gladwyn d'Souza, USA
20th Century is a period in the history of the world, which is marked by unimaginable achievements in science and technology but at the same time full of violence and killings of human beings which have no parallel in the entire known history.
"Tomorrows life is too late. Live today" Martial
With every passing century mankind walks closer to the line between heaven and hell.
There is still a year to go so this subject is a bit premature.
There is much whiney, ceremonial drivel about the essence of the 20th century. Progress is invariably the outcome of super efforts and suffering, not self-pity. Let us never forget and pay sincere tribute to those who laboured and suffered, often voluntarily, and then hail the progress. The 20th century gives birth to an auspicious offspring that needs our active and generous participation to realise its huge potential.
The loss of identity, the rise of intolerance, the growth of poverty and the manipulation of minds through media.
As each Century passes humans have become more and more advanced.
This century we have produced machines that will advance for us.
Large leaps forward in terms of science and technology and even larger ones back in terms of humanity and values.
We do not own the earth, we are merely a part of it...whatever we do to the earth we do unto ourselves.
The implementation of E=mc2 and the NON-implementation of "Do or Die"
I've got four for us all to ponder.
1) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. (Charles Dickens)
2) An era when love kills and a mouse has more money than god. (Pearl Jam)
3) Would all the people in the cheap seats clap your hands, the rest of you rattle your jewellery! (John Lennon)
4) The lengths that we go to in the pursuit of self-destruction. (Me)
The birth of dehumanisation
The greatest change in the 20th Century is communication between everyone in the world through telecommunications. Sadly this doesn't seem to have solved the sorrows of differences and Nationalism and Fundamentalist Religion is on the rise.
So far, 99 years of amazing technological advance and dreadful conflict... but with one year remaining, is that likely to change?
Unprecedented technological and social change, accelerated by a half-century of relative peace. There is now more potential for understanding and enlightenment than ever before in human history - provided we can control our primitive desire for conflict and war.
John Gilbody, UK
The century that sees the worst
war and conflict although the whole
world came to common sense (UN).
But not many realised this war also
stirred and brought modern
technology invention in a very short
Science pushing to improve life, the church pulling to destroy it.
Remember that the passage into 2000 is a split second. Why not resolve to spend just five minutes each day putting the welfare of others at the forefront of your thoughts, words and deeds or encouraging other people to do so. Perhaps in 2999 those who come after us will truly inherit a tolerant, peaceful and enlightened world.
Poverty, war, disease, famine and misery ravage the world. The greatest injustice of all is complacency. However, I do believe that humanity has become, ever so slowly, more humane. For within this small seed of hope lies our future.
For better (Moon landing) and worse (Second World War).
"What a wonderful time to have lived"
This century has experienced and perpetuated the dualism of humanity: the good and the bad. The list brings both pessimism and optimism. We must, however, ask ourselves one question: why have we permitted the bloodiest century in recorded history to occur?
Kahlil Elizabeth Thompson, USA/Austria
The 20th Century saw humankind achieve technological wonders and moral turpitude on an equally grand scale. The angel-like and noble, work in progress, that is humankind, has not, as of yet exterminated its self and has achieved great good in its struggle to attain spiritual betterment, despite its inherent biological weaknesses. Even though we continue to corrupt our planet and are still prepared to kill on another in the name of freedom there is hope for the propagation of our species. There is hope, I for one, am optimistic.
The Century of Tears
A time period man crosses his boundaries and enters into another domain he is not capable of surviving.
"Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves. We're idiots babe, It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves." Bob Dylan
A century of corruption. All that was invented in this century has perfected the art of corruption, even the computers and the internet.
The greatest good and the greatest evil.
The 20th Century: Mankind on the precipice of self-destruction.
It has been a century of supersonic progress, giant technological leaps and huge intellectual growth.
Andrew Sobilo, Poland
Material advancement, spiritual decay.
A century marred by men's attempts to create perfection; a century redeemed by respect for those who keep trying.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way". Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Terry C. Billyard, UK (from USA)
From World Wars into a Cold War
toward One World: Globalisation!
Martin Luther once said, "Everything
that is done in the world is done by
hope." Let's hope for the better
during the 21st century.
WWI, WWII, IBM, HIV, DNA, NASA, WWW.COM They mean the same in any language!!!!
Mass communication means that these 100 years sees mankind, for the first time, reading from the same page of the book. The next 100 years we have to learn to read between the lines.
Suffer the Children
Mankind has not changed, but we now have many new toys for good and for evil. We need to learn how to distinguish between the two.
"Oh brave New World that has such people in it!"(Apologies to Shakespeare)
or "The Wasteland" (No apologies to T.S.Eliot)
or : "Nothing to be done." (Beckett)
The life will continue...
Unpredicted 100 years makes the next 100 years more unpredictable.
Xing Shusong, China
We end this century, as we began, not any closer to a consensus for human existence. No political ideology, no religion, no technology, no science, no economic theory, no media, no sport, no guru has convinced us of our purpose. As we drift into the next century one hopes we won't kill as many, destroy the environment and ignore the poor, as we try to make sense of it all. The good in us should not permanently die.
The rich got richer, and advise (let's say dictate) the poor for democracy, SAP("structural adjustment P), and now globalisation with conditions like green protection.
A century of amazing advancements for the betterment of mankind. But why, oh why can't we get it through our thick heads just how fragile is our beautiful home in space. Our housekeeping needs to improve drastically.
Tony, New Zealand
Same old song, faster tempo.
Everything is as it was.
It's just that things appear in different forms.
Time is relative.
So is the perceived
As the great Historian H.G. Wells said in his OUTLINE OF HISTORY, "if by some miracle we could get the copy of the OUTLINE OF HISTORY for 2030-which is only three decades away - we would say " what fantastic achievements, from electricity to electronics, and instant internet communication with anyone anywhere in the world!" Yes, finally, we are getting to know our fellow men better. I have no doubt that the next century will even be a better one - for everyone from America to Africa. Technology will be the great equaliser of things to come.
A quantum leap forward in human civilisation.
James Sinclair, UK
A century of opportunity, a century of increasing tolerance, a century that opened the door for so much more, a century which showed us that leaders of countries are so important, they may bring despair or hope.
Darwin's theory of evolution was more evident among mankind than in any other species!
Just because man knows how to walk does not mean he knows where to guide his feet.
A century where the poor got poorer and the rich got richer.
It was the period where money held higher value than human lives.
Did good. Do better
A busy and most exciting century and the best part...I am/was there.
The age of Commercialism, Individualism, and Terrorism.
Christian C, Australian (USA)
Rampant materialism, at the end it will take us NOWHERE.
Nothing has really changed nor will it. Why? Because the drug companies stand to lose too much. Let us just keep laughing. (I have MS).
After the invention of "money" and "capitalism", there is one more kind of Homo sapiens, called "Homo slaves".
We are the Toolmakers, and, Oh, the tools we have lately made...
Gregg Ewing, USA
A century full of contradictions and misinterpretations. A century full of deterrents and veiled threats, that never worked. A century on conflict, but greater understanding. A century in which the weak grow weaker and powerful grow more so. A century where the rich get richer, at the expense of the poor. A century where the world has shrunk to the size of a phone cable so you know what everyone is doing and they all know what you're doing. A century where we've learnt everything and nothing.
The American Century. Century of universal culture, technological advances, return of faith. The century in which humans lost touch with humanity.
The 20th century more than any other was the age of technology. We reached the bottom of our oceans, the top of our mountain peaks, and ventured to Mars and beyond...... Our technological breakthroughs in communications enabled the "Global Market" that was absent prior to 1900 which broadened our cultural awareness. I only pray that the 21st century is that of burgeoning harmony throughout mankind.
My vote for catch phrase of the century is; "How would you like that?"
Catherine Penfold, USA
The Century of Communication Improvement.
Radio, Television, Satellites, Computers,
Internet, Flight, have all lead to better
and quicker communication between peoples.
In this century, many have struggled to make peace, but we have not.
Better living through Quantum Mechanics.
Humans playing God, Holocaust, AIDS, Concorde, Mars, War, computers... and still we hate one another... Sad choice for our world!
The past has lead us to the point where we have found that it is possible through new technology to create problems which, can not be fixed by newer technology. But our politicians and the populace in general refuse to believe this because it would be a competitive disadvantage in the short term to halt the advancement the technology that produces these problems. In the last 100 years we have discovered a multitude of ways to annihilate our entire species and possibly the entire world without increasing our wisdom of how to use such power one iota. For essentially our make up is still that of a primitive animal living in an unnatural world of our own creation. As a species we are in deep trouble, as an individual, life is good.
Another evidence of our determination to survive our ever-increasing destructive tendencies in a world that we keep shrinking: a continuum of the eternal paradox.
A clear shift from the era of contentment to one of constant dissatisfaction when we have more than ever before.
Ashvini Sengar, India
Democracy struggled through a difficult childhood only to be overtaken by global corporate dictatorship.
For mankind and the environment it was the worst of the millennium, (the 16th and 17th centuries running a close second and third). Not much to be proud of really, nothing to celebrate. Homo sapiens are a misnomer.
Kurt Stottmeier, USA
I think the most the most memorable event of 20th century is the moon landing, 'a small step for a man, a giant step for mankind'
The evolution of "homo futurus".
On the 20th century:
"One small step for man....one giant leap for mankind"
We found ourselves in the 20th century; profoundly wicked, infinitely forgiving, encapsulating the essence of humanity.
A century full of promise, of a super advanced human civilisation by the new millennium, but delivered only more poverty, disease and wars, amidst spectacular wealth for the few.
Khanyo, South Africa
Good luck World... You'll need it!
Must try harder.
This century has only shown us that mankind has not achieved anything at all concerning to live together in peace. I believe that no other century has been crueller than this one.
This century should be seen as a period of transition from old ideologies to a newer, better way of life for all. The leading nations are benefiting already and the challenge of the new century will be to make this way of life available to all through enlightenment and education.
Like no other century, the 20th has given us a glimpse into mankind's unlimited potential for progress and fulfilment; for the first time we can foresee the possibility of abundance in every field of life. History will remember this as the time when we could practically begin to imagine the eradication of poverty and war-- unlimited global progress and fulfilment will be the result of this century of discovery.
A century of invention; world wars; developing nations; women's, minority and human
rights; global awareness; space exploration; terrorism; sexual inhibition and Aids.
"100 years of a Maturing World": We have made huge advances in our learning about science and technology, but the application of this knowledge has not always been beneficial. We are greedy for material things and we care far more about ourselves and the pursuit of money than we care about other people. We are a child growing through the teenage years. I only wonder what kind of world the "adult" years will bring.
John McLean, Switzerland
20 years ago I had a Sinclair zx81 computer with 1Kb memory, and a TV game that went 'ping'. Now I communicate with colleagues all over the world, and work from my own home with streams of data flowing in and out of my phone lines, and it is nothing to jump on a 747, and 'pop down' to the other side of the planet. How much difference will it make, when humans are still finding interesting new ways to manipulate and destroy each other? Advancement of technology. Definitely. Advancement as a race? Probably not.
The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of non-sense.
"Things are getting better, getting better all the time"?
Let the new millennium restore good manners, moral decency and kindness to one another please.
"All we are saying...is give peace a chance."
We have become more greedy. It's good. The world economy will grow faster.
God save us all.
A century where the greatest of achievements have been lost by the most horrific of events -including the spice girls getting together.
I say potato, you say pot-taw-to.
History will remember this as the time when we could practically begin to imagine the eradication of poverty and war - unlimited global progress and fulfilment will be the result of this century of discovery.
It is a century when hundreds of nations including my motherland tasted their freedom and independence. Try not to mention about the mistakes that we made in this century, the main task to be fulfilled is to make sure that everybody is equal and nobody is ashamed of his/her religion or ethnic background.
Ramil Mammadov, Azerbaijan
It's just been so confusing... Now we call the present times postmodern, but we can't even define what it means.
We have witnessed the end of the age of innocence and spawned the age of cynicism. My hope for the future is that we can regain something of our humanity before it is too late. That we can learn the lessons of history. That we can began to take care of our planet and it's resources. That we realise that we did not inherit the planet from our ancestors but that we borrow it from future generations. That "We learn to live together as brothers or die together as fools." And that the pursuit of personal wealth and power is not why we are here. We are a Global Village, One Planet - One People.
'Ain't this boogie a mess?' Frank Zappa on his 'Apostrophe' album.
The century in which
censorship - both
governmental - became
impotent in the face of
advances - the Internet.
The word that best describes our century: dishonesty!
This century Has been a perfect building block for the next one, I believe the next century will involve comments from other Galaxies.
The world wars have ended, and we now live longer, but the air and water are dirtier and many children are still hungry.
Human beings have come to rely on governments,
religious institutions, corporations, and the media to
provide solutions for their problems. The result is
that the world problems have increase exponentially
and the individual is suffering.
In the words of Thomas Paine: "These are the times that try men's souls."
An era of constant triumphs of mankind's intellect and folly over one another. A century of great pride and immense shame.
Every century has been a century of war, as well as diseases and environmental catastrophe. There is no ideal out there, we must try to strive for good but we must also keep a tight grip on reality. There is most danger from those who would lead us to some utopia (Hitler etc). Churchill's words will resound through the centuries "the price of peace is eternal vigilance", what he meant by this was that the best way to avoid problems like war is to prepare for them and keep democracy strong.
M Wright, UK
Nothing really matters.
FREEDOM (from colonial powers).
A century which made earth much smaller.
Spirit. Though evils and obstacles abounded, we have continued to overcome them.
Acting GOD! We are great
actors on this Stage of
Earth, but still in search of
A century which proved
that freedom is not cheap.
The 20th Century was a time of triumph for the innovator, and a time of despair for the traditionalist.
"I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones."
The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Especially in the last quarter of the century.
The century which supposedly buried God, but the next one will prove mankind wrong because Jesus will return in the 21st century. God has had enough.
It was not but a blink. The mercenary mankind has emerged a high-tech and wealthy ignorant, barbarous Beast!
I don't have enough to eat.
At the end of this century we say goodbye military alliances and welcome to economic alliances.
It was a century of tremendous contradiction: while great strides were made for the betterment of mankind, the grossest offences against our fellow man were also perpetrated.
In a small part of space, a star goes supernova, and sends the proverbial Four Horsemen flying through the vacuum. History DOES repeat itself.
As Henry Ford uttered, "History is bunk!".
Atoms split, genetic code on the verge of being broken, cells cloned, information and data transmitted quickly. Software that performs complex tasks quickly and accurately on silicon and aluminium chips. Wow! The humanitarian issues are obviously felt more profoundly, yet no one can deny this is the age of discovery.
A muddied melting pot.
The century that brought the scourge of AIDS to our beloved continent of Africa. Let's hope the next one will obliterate it.
"I want..." (citizen of first world nation). "I need..." (citizen of third world nation).
Big deal, what's on TV?
With every passing century mankind reinvents its destiny. A wise man once said that the further back in history you look, the further forward in time you can see. We, after the war to end all wars, coined the phrase "Lest we forget" which contains this wisdom within its three words.
Roy Maher, Canada
The greatest achievement of mankind is "Modern Democracy".
Excellent progress in science, Good progress in international co-operation, little progress in serving humanity. In fact the world had never been a good place to live for most of the people. It is still not a good place.
'All we need is Love, Love is all we need'... hope we're singing different songs next century.
It took only a hundred years for man to bring a billion year-old world to the point of destruction.
Stop the world, I want to get off!
From Relativity to the Holocaust to the Atom Bomb to the Microchip: A rainbow of events in the spectrum of time, and a foundation of what is to come.
The century when the uncontrollable genie of greed and capitalism leapt out of the bottle and refused to be put back in.
It has been the century where our eyes were opened. Not just to the good, but also to the tremendous damage we can do too. We know more now than at any time in our past what we are capable of. Let us hope that in the next century we can use that knowledge to correct what we have done wrong, for the sake of all those that died THIS century, so that we know that they did not die in vain. Let us CREATE the future THEY would have wished to live in!
A century marked by remarkable human achievements, discoveries, inventions and gifted personalities but marred by their inability to address global issues; poverty, hunger, terror and violation of human rights.
For God so loved the world...
The 20th Century unleashed Technology which progressed with leaps and bounds unprecedented in other fields.
A century of destruction and desperation.
This was a game of two halves: The one that came before 1950 and that came after.
It was a century of two-dimensional advancement, with no regard to the depth of the problems at hand.
The world has come to the point that it needs God to intervene.
The birth, almost imperceptibly, of a global consciousness. For the first time in history, large fractions of humanity experienced the same events and shared the same emotions at the same time. Communications have connected us as human beings and made us aware of our similarities. Our collective consciousness holds dear the image of our tiny, shared planet, floating like a jewel against an inky backdrop of space.
Wendy Goodwin, Adelaide, South Australia
Unknown Error. Remote/local systems no longer responding. Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to reboot, any other key to continue!
The barbarians are back!
Quoting Science Fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, the 20th Century will, with any luck, mark "Childhood's End" for mankind and we will begin to mature somewhat.
"Out of this world"
The age of tranquillity, idealism, corruption, and greed.
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