The Defining Moment of the Aughts?

Posted: December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

The Aughts are coming to a close, and I can’t say I’m sad to see them winding down. It’s been a decade of paying the piper for all that fun we had in the go-go nineties, I guess. It seems to me that we have a choice now to make; what moment will we use to define the last ten years of our lives? Surely it won’t be the day the banks collapsed; we’ve been saved by history from having to remember this decade for something as mean and stingy as all that mess. So will it be the day the city fell, or the day we finally stopped saying forever, “This country isn’t ready for a black president?” Will we choose the best or the worst moment to signify?

There are many reasons to believe that history will mark the day the towers fell as more momentous than Obama’s inauguration; after all, we celebrate Pearl Harbor day but have lumped Washington and Lincoln together for the lesser “Presidents’ Day,” and I do not think we should expect Obama to rise above either in our civic memory. (It would be asking too much not just of him, but of ourselves. We do not like to think of the living as great. I don’t know why.) The question of where you were on 9/11 has replaced the question of where you were when Kennedy was shot; too many of us now don’t have an answer the latter. Airplanes have been repurposed as tools of war and for a brief moment, even the guys who usually call it “Jew York” were willing to allow as to how Manhattan is actually part of the United States of America.

There is a strong argument to be made that the aughts were defined in that single moment of their first year.

But I choose to believe that we are defined not by our worst moment, but by our best. That the aughts will be remembered for being the decade in which we elected a president and a congress that brought us back from the brink of a new colonialism, oversaw the creation of a universal healthcare system, and began in earnest the hard work undoing the impending ecological disaster.

I choose to believe we will remember this decade not for what has been done to us, but for what we ourselves have done.

  1. Dody Jane says:

    I think that like the 60’s, the decade will be remembered for more than one thing. It was not quite as full as 1960-1969 of social change and catastrophic loss, but it was momentous in more ways than one. Nice post Sarah.

  2. I for one am ready for a boring decade, filled with slow news days.

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