As you read these words you may be thinking about the Christmas and New Year activities you plan to enjoy with your families and friends. Perhaps it wouldn' t be a bad idea to also give some thought to the fact that we are at the threshold of a new millennium. It' s only natural for us to wonder what lies ahead: How will our lives develop? What course will our careers take? What challenges will we face in the near and more distant future? Where will we be a year, five years and ten years from now?
As we look ahead, perhaps we should also look back a bit and try to see where we have come from. The final decade of the twentieth century has been a unique and momentous period of time. A peaceful worldwide revolution has taken place, and it all started here, in the country where The World of English is published. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the collapse of communism in Poland. It all started in June 1989 through the use of ballots, not bullets. Soon the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and one communist regime after another collapsed, including the Soviet Union itself, or as former American president Ronald Reagan called it the 'Evil Empire' .
Reagan and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev certainly did have a hand in that course of events, but most people believe the biggest role was played by three Poles: Pope John Paul II, Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa and America' s Polishborn political strategist Zbigniew Brzeziński. Over the past ten years, the world has changed beyond recognition. Democracy has taken root and many have enjoyed the fruits of economic advancement. The technological progress of the past decade with its global computerization and great medical advances has been staggering.
Of course, new problems have emerged. They include a widening gap between rich and poor nations, unemployment and environmental destruction. But there have always been problems. That' s what life is about facing problems and finding ways to resolve them. The World of English has always promoted an optimistic, active, 'cando' attitude.
Yes, we are living in very interesting times, and The World of English hopes to make its contribution by helping prepare its readers for the future. A knowledge of English will undoubtedly prove even more important in the twenty-first century than it has to date. In science and technology as well as in diplomacy, culture, fine arts, the social sciences and most other fields, no other language can match the universality, versatility and usefulness of English. In that respect, you have a head start over those of your peers who have neglected to learn the language properly or do not take their study of it seriously.
With that in mind, let me wish you and your families good health and every success in the year 2000. May it be an eventful and memorable one in which you grow, develop, learn new things, visit interesting places and expand your horizons. To you and yours: God bless and keep you always!
Edward J. Piszek
President, Copernicus Society of America