21 November 2009

Ten Years On

There's a fairly interesting article in the New York Times about the rapidly-approaching end of the decade and how this decade will be remembered. One perspective that isn't represented in the article, however, is that of one who came of age in the 2000s. These last ten years were an interesting time to be alive, fraught with political intrigue, full of social upheaval. I expect that years from now the 2000s will be remembered in much the same way that the 1960s are remembered--if there's a television show about life in the 2000s, it's going to be a lot more like The Wonder Years than That 70s Show.

While the 1990s were a time of optimism and prosperity, the 2000s were a time of strife and unease. The decade began with the scandalous presidential election of 2000 which delivered George W. Bush into the White House (for better or worse). Maybe there was a bit of flotsam and jetsam in the corridors of power, but that much, I figured, was to be expected. After all, anyone raised in a post-Watergate America was brought up in the common knowledge that all politicians are liars and cheaters. Perhaps it didn't matter who was pulling the strings--one politician was the same as any other (or so I thought, anyway).

Then, not even a year later, that day came. On that day, the decade began in earnest. Everyone will remember where they were and what they were doing when the world changed on the morning of September 11, 2001. The nation went to war that day, fueled by outrage and a berserk lust for revenge. Two years later, the United States invaded Iraq. Why? Nobody really seems to know why, even all these years later. Maybe we got tired of Afghanistan and decided to try something different. Whatever the reason we decided to start the war, it certainly doesn't seem to have made things any better for us. As we waged wars overseas, our economy began to fall into a shambles, until the whole thing very nearly collapsed in 2008.

This was the world in which I came of age. In the last ten years, I have seen that the omnipotence, invulnerability and moral infallibility of my country--convictions which, when the decade began, I held very dear--were simply illusions. That is how I will remember the 2000s: a decade of disillusionment.

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