Paloma O'Riley
Public Safety Accountability
Louisville, Colorado, USA

Palomo O'Riley sent the following letter to a handful of Y2K activisits on Monday, January 10, 2000. It is reproduced here with permission.


"My Compatriots in the Cause"
Monday, January 10, 2000

Greetings and felicitations for the new century. I've done little reading since the rollover, for whatever reason. Watching the news has been enough I guess. After reading Tom's email I presume to share a few of my thoughts with you -- my 'compatriots in the cause'.

a) I feel like we dodged a bullet, and I'm greatly relieved we've done so -- no matter what the cause. If there's residual worry, it's do to with experiences with tornados and hurricanes. I pray we are not in the eye of the storm.

b) We knew (or should have known) that this was a (relatively) thankless effort we undertook. The criticism doesn't bother me. I knew 3 years ago that we'd either be viewed as heroes or fools -- depending on the outcome. If efforts were successful to remediate and prepare, we would be considered fools. If we weren't successful, we'd be so busy that there would be no time for acclaim. None of us wanted the worst to happen, so we were doomed to be viewed as fools from the start. (Besides which, I believe in the saying "No good deed goes unpunished".) :> However, I would rather be in the company of fools at this time, and am proud to be counted among them.

c) Some recent activity does concern me -- the amount of effort to gather and relate any and all occurrences of Y2K related failures. That the information is gathered is useful and right. However, I hope the motivation isn't to somehow justify all our time, effort, and sacrifice. Our actions don't need to be justified. We did what we believed needed to be done. I personally would go through it again if I thought the potential threat as great. It may be difficult at times to hold our heads up when we are ridiculed, but 'friends don't need explanations, and enemies won't believe them anyway'. Grace and dignity under fire is our only recourse while fools gloat. It's doubly difficult to be glad that they are able to do so. Be proud that you cared enough to put yourself (and everything else) on the line for what you believe. That, in itself, should be enough for anyone who cares to look.

d) For all of this, one concern remains -- that business and gov't will learn nothing from our close call, that we will continue the same shortsighted practices. If we do, I will be sorely grieved, but not surprised. I despair of our fellows' ability to meet the unknown without fear, and admit ignorance without feeling diminished. Until we overcome these very human failings, I fear that the next 'bullet burn' may be more than a graze. If we pray for anything from all this, let's pray that we have learned something, and then put it to good use.

e) Returning to 'normal life' is a challenge. I felt something similar after returning from service in Desert Shield/Storm. But we must now help each other do so. However, we should not forget what we've learned. Community and neighborhood building must continue, promoting self-reliance and self-sufficiency must continue. Robert Theobald's resilient community efforts must continue. If we do this, and another potentially serious event threatens, than perhaps we will not be as vulnerable.

f) I have tried and been unable to put into words how proud I am of everyone who put their lives on hold, who got their hands dirty, who put up with derision and hardship -- because they believed that helping others was the right thing to do. Such people give me hope that our species may actually continue if we ever experience very serious challenges to our existence. Thank you, and thanks to everyone who helped you. Words are not enough. My heart is full. If there is anything you ever need that I can assist you with, please don't hesitate to ask. May God, the powers that be, the universe, etc., bless you, keep you, and give you strength.

Much love and respect,

Paloma O'Riley
Public Safety Accountability