SALT LAKE CITY — Eighteen years have passed since the world paused, held its breath, then celebrated the dawning of the year 2000.
Just over 11 months prior to that New Year's Eve, Time magazine placed on its cover a photo illustration of a man with a sandwich-board sign declaring, "The end of the world!?! Y2K Insanity! Apocalypse Now! Will Computers Melt Down? Will Society?" and a few other notes.
None of those things happened, of course. A new day dawned like any other day, but we had a strong desire to make sense of this apparently significant passage of time. I recall receiving a letter from my father-in-law that December. He and his wife were out of the country on a church assignment and his weekly letter just days before Jan. 1, 2000, included a reflective paragraph noting that at such times we feel like there should be meaning in the change.
I agreed, but what is the meaning?
I spent New Year's Eve 2000 working, like many journalists, just in case there were significant events to report on beyond simply a traditional celebration. I recall walking out of a California newsroom as the hour marched toward midnight to see what people on the street were saying.
I felt different, but there was nothing outwardly different. Any difference was of my own making, a desire to reflect on the year that was, and the life that is. That's the beauty of New Year's Eve. Some make resolutions, some take a look back to make better decisions ahead. In that sense, the year 2000 was no different than the year 2018.
It is a time to reflect on the past, build on the good and make a fresh start where needed.
Deseret News reporter Lois Collins this week looked back at what we've learned this year about the American family. Her story, headlined "Ten things we learned about strong families in 2017," is a fascinating look at trends, at least through the eyes of researchers.
Among the findings:
• According to Nicholas Wolfinger, a University of Utah sociologist, younger Americans are cheating less, and older Americans are cheating more. A Deseret News survey found that Americans are murky on what counts as infidelity in the digital age. The research allows one to take a strong look at the need to reinforce committment in relationships going into the new year.
• Teen development is slowing. "A psychology professor at San Diego State University, Jean M. Twenge, has studied teen development and concludes that modern 18-year-olds look like 15-year-olds did in the past in terms of development," Lois writes. Parents this year have a chance to evaluate how to prepare their teens for adulthood.
• "Marriage is more stable for children than cohabitation. An analysis of marriage versus cohabitating in more than 60 countries suggests young children are more likely to thrive when parents marry. The 2017 World Family Map was published by the Institute for Family Studies and the Social Trends Institute and considered the impact on a child's first 12 years."
Sara Israelsen-Hartley this year took a look at the gender pay gap. The summary: "Is the wage gap real?" Yes. But it might not be what you think it is. We explore the role workforce flexibility plays in the wage gap and how the pharmacy industry solution offers clues to what might be done.
Among the lessons from her series:
• The unexplained portion of the gender wage gap is 5.4 cents. It means all else being equal, a woman will earn 94.6 cents for every dollar a man makes.
• Sara's reporting revealed that flexibility at work has a value and women who want to prioritize family may have to pay a steep price.
• Help for women will require encouragement for young women to pursue and finish higher education, promote policies that encourage businesses to promote family friendly environments, and seek legislative solutions that promote policies supporting Utah workers and their children.2 comments on this story
There are many lessons to draw on from the past year. The resiliency of disaster survivors in Houston, California, Puerto Rico and Florida have dominated this column and our Deseret News reporting; the faith-based work of reporter Kelsey Dallas, detailing the decision-making underway in the U.S. Supreme Court. All provide an opportunity for reflection going into the new year.
So we take with us into the new year the lessons from the past year. And what meaning do we give it?
Abraham Lincoln said it this way:
"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."