The End of the Aughts and a New Mentality for the Teens
The End of the Aughts
For the first time in over 15 years, I am looking forward to New Year's. It's extremely rare that I see any significance to arbitrarily designated ends of years and I thought too much of a deal was made about the numerological importance of the year 2000 and the new millennium (in 2001). Yet, I'm greatly looking forward to the end of the Goose Eggs' Decade.
A decade of Brittany Spears, Hummers, excess consumption, terrible action movies with bloated special FX budgets, accounting scandals, mindless unilateral military actions, complacency, and an environment where dou$#ebags like Thomas Friedman were considered "intellectuals".
The decade that gave us Linkin Park, George W. Bush, a brief renewal of McCarthyism, David Lereah, real estate prices that could "never fall again!", gay marriage "bans", the worst economic crash since the Great Depression, and more terrible rap, pop, and nu-metal than one could ever care for.
With the prolonged economic crash, we are seeing a wave of negativity around America. One that contrasts sharply with the utopian optimism of much of this decade. Yet, for once, I at least have a slight modicum of hope about the future.
The call of the Aughts was a familiar call. One that always seems to end in the same fashion:
"It's different this time"
It seems like any time the broader populace convinces themselves of that, something disastrous happens. Two major instances of it's-difference-this-time-ism should be remembered in the 20th Century:
(1) The 1929 Stock Market
(2) The early 1910's
We're all familiar with the '29 stock market crash, but more forgotten in the shuffle was the mentality that took hold in the Western world from about 1905 - 1914. The belief was in one of perpetual progress. War was a thing of the past and we were on the verge of democratically achieving an economic system of true equality: socialism. Well, so much for that! And so much for the boneheaded economic theories of this decade.
There is some good news lost in all the bad. While Americans are suddenly more pessimistic than ever, I believe the mentality that has taken hold actually gives us a better chance to succeed. The Aughts was a decade of complacency, but that has started to change in the past 24 months. Suddenly, major issues such as huge budget issues (Federal and several states), climate change, energy independence, and the transportation system are starting to get commented upon more frequently. While this by no means ensures success, it is at least a first step. You can never fix problems if you bury your head in the sand and deny their existence. There are at least fewer heads in the sand now.
Also, while we have a long, hard road ahead, we are by no means the worst off generation of Americans. My grandfather fought in both world wars and was haunted by images of WWI even in the late 1980s (right before he died). And most Americans seem to forget the problems of the late 19th Century, while culminated in a popular "Free Silver" movement, with the aim of causing deliberate inflation in order to allow Midwestern farmers to get out of debt. Don't forget slavery, the Civil War, the Republic's early crises, etc, etc, etc. My basic point here is that we have problems very unique to our generation, but other generations have also had to fight through major hardships. No reason we cannot succeed, as well.
My great hope is that all the negative that has happened over the past decade will result in a different mentality for the next few decades. I'm hoping we see an artistic revival, less obsession with status symbols, and a more productive mentality among the American populace. I'm hoping we see more hard work, more people with ideas, and more risk takers who start their own small business and try to create more long-term value for America. Maybe if we're very lucky, we'll eventually even get a less screwed up Washington; but don't the farm on that last one. All in all, I'm simply hoping that the Teens take on a very different character than the Aughts.
So, as one TMF'er already said, "Good riddance to the aughts." Let's do everything we can to make the Teens a much better decade.