The step from the 20th into the 21st century heralded a new millennium. It also triggered countless fears and other responses that have since mostly faded from memory. But have they really disappeared? Are we in western civilization able to compare the mood during the change of the first millennium to the second with our general mood today as we enter the third millennium?
For several decades before 1000 A.D. there was a sense in Europe that doomsday was drawing near; humanity anticipated the Last Judgment described in the Revelation of John. When the fateful year passed without incident it was interpreted as an act of divine grace that would continue for only a few centuries and allow human beings time to repent if they followed a holy path determined by the Church. Then came the Crusades, the final expulsion of the Moors, and the Inquisition. Both the positive and negative results of this era remain with us.
Rudolf Steiner describes how large portions of our civilization will be affected by the transition to the third millennium. He describes that prior to this transition an era of optimism and confidence in technological progress will prevail in humanity – there would be no problem so large that it could not be solved by human ingenuity. This optimism has persisted into the first decade of the third millennium. Yet it is shaken by new and unexpected challenges that touch every country and all peoples. Among these challenges are the distribution of wealth and resources, climate imbalance, the stewardship and ownership of natural resources, population growth, and diseases.
This International English Conference will address the times in which we live. It is an opportunity to explore through shared work ways of implementing Rudolf Steiner's indications for developing new initiatives that will turn crisis into conscious benefit and opportunity. The world situation today is serious. It is asking us to discover and put into practice new ways of working with Rudolf Steiner's indications. We hope many friends will join us at the Goetheanum to take part in this special, joyful event.
Virginia Sease and Cornelius Pietzner