Let’s hope the next decade is better than the last
As I watch the various perspectives and recaps of the last decade pop up in numerous media sources, I am struck by their lack of breadth.This has been a turbulent and eventful decade full of changes, issues, happenings, problems and advances. From war to terrorism to medicine to politics to technology to widely swinging economic fluctuations to energy issues to social ills to unthinkable natural disasters, never mind the celebrity comings and goings that often preoccupy the masses, the years 2000-09 have bounced us from high to low to lower over and over again.I find it curious that the decade is being defined mostly by presidential politics and economics – boiling down to spin, disgruntled materialism and a woeful rehashing of perceived missteps or victories, depending on your slant.This decade was turbulent from the get-go – from the economic downturn in 2000 to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to the wars beginning in 2002 to the economic uncertainty accompanying the wars to the bursting of the mortgage boom and housing market to the current crash-and-burn scenario.However, our lives are not merely defined by our economy or our politics. There have been social, cultural and technological influences and changes that have affected who we are, how we think and what we do, and not just what we have.Amid the turmoil of the last decade, we as a people have changed the way we think, feel and act as a direct result of that turmoil. We have had to deal with issues and happenings so large, numerous and seemingly insurmountable in the current geopolitical climate that we have pulled in and focused on less important things – perhaps as a coping mechanism.Despite our ability to access information and people in an instant and with global reach, we are more cloistered than ever.In a post-9/11 world, we feel powerless, small and ineffectual. It takes more to get a rise out of us, because we have seen it all, it seems. We would rather peek in on and pass judgment on strangers (our current favorite form of entertainment) than to take a look at something difficult or upsetting and do something about it, because, really, who are we?We’ve learned that there are only so many people with any power or effect, and we’re not one of them. So, we give up and live in our screens, big and small, with the world at our fingertips, but too hot to handle.As the next generation matures in this decade and we depend on them to bravely wade into the mess that melts our minds daily, I resolve to support them in graduating from their Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, text message, YouTube, who’s-winning-the-TV-contest, who’s-getting-kicked-off-of-what world, which is often dominated by their social network and mindless media.There is so much to know, to learn, to develop an opinion about and to do something about that we (all of us) have to find ways to sometimes transcend the daily struggle to survive just long enough to be aware and to be involved – to face things more difficult than the media fascination of the moment with the same attention, passion of opinion and willingness to participate.So, here’s to a new decade – despite those who will argue that it doesn’t really begin until next year. I don’t know about you, but I’m in so much of a hurry to get rid of this one, I can’t wait.Donna Richards is a resident of Nashua.