First off, I want to emphasize that I'm sitting here writing a blog at 10:07pm Arizona time on New Year's Eve. We're now a mere one hour and 53... 52 minutes away from ending this utterly disastrous year and a decade of nothing but bad things.
I suppose the very fact that I'm here writing to a blogosphere that doesn't really actually read my musings on New Year's Eve instead of being out celebrating with friends is tribute enough to that. While I'm here, my sister has two of her friends over and they're currently running on the deck on the roof making a racket, Mom and Dad are attempting to find a movie to watch (unsuccessfully thus far), one of my brothers is watching "Burn Notice," the other is out doing God-knows-what with his crowd, and I can only assume my friends Matt, Angela, Scott, Ryan, and Abigail are having fun at their respective parties. Sadly, I did not get any offers of New Year's celebration parties for myself to attend, so I'm simply waiting for the ball to drop for a drink of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider and writing aimlessly.
That said, onto my point: this decade sucked. I mean, aside from a world-changing terrorist attack in 2001, subsequent wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the degredation of America's world standing, an economy that went from the best ever seen to a near-fatal recession, the deaths of icons and actors (Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger come to mind), and the elimination of an entire former planet from our textbook solar system charts (Pluto), there hasn't been much to cheer about since Y2K.
One hour, 43 minutes and counting....
What will this decade be known for? The sixties was the sexual revolution. The seventies, the hippie movement. The eighties will be remembered for the Reagan years and the computer technology upstart. The 90's were the dot-com era. But the 2000's? Obviously, firstly this decade will be remembered for its political distresses, both good and bad. 9/11/01 changed everything. There's no denying that. This country and the world will never go back to being comfortable and worry-free as things were (at least, to a greater extent) before those attacks. We cannot undo the new security measures, the greater Federal control over security, or the color-coded warnings. Every day we step outside is another day we see the post-9/11 changes: cameras on every street corner, now full-body scanners in airports, stories every night on the news of casualty reports from overseas.
Alongside these dramatic changes, politically we've seen historic firsts in our sociopolitical climate: the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, the first black President of the United States. We've had a massive political and even ideological shift in the country in 2006, then 2008 as the country went first from anti-Bush sentiment to pro-Democrat sentiment to most recently tangentially segmenting to a hyper-libertarian ideology thanks to McCain-Palin and the Tea Party movements. We've dealt with Truthers, then Birthers, with a bit of Cindy Sheehan nuttiness and Ron Paul revolutionaries mixed in. This decade has had us deal with issues of illegal immigration (which we all greatly failed epically on), healthcare (which we're currently going down in flames with), privacy (is sacrificing personal liberties for the security of the country sound?), and the economy.
One hour, 29 minutes and counting....
Ah, the economy. Since we're closing out the decade with a recession which I daresay is the worst since the Great Depression of 80 years prior, of course this decade will be remembered as the boom-bust decade. We had explosive growth, probably thanks to the wars and overall prosperity, followed by the utter collapse of the housing market, the job market, the stock market, all of which has translated to failure at the local supermarkets (and other retail establishments). Yet to be seen is the effect of over $2 trillion worth of stimulus money pumped into reviving banks (without closing down bad regulatory lending practices, so this will probably happen again in 20 years), failing industries (does America really need to be making cars anymore if the Japanese can do it better?), and the rise of "green" technologies.
Speaking of that, how about science? What will the double-zero decade (hey, that's not a bad-sounding catchphrase... copyrighted here!) leave in its wake on the scientific front? I can't think of a more apt figurehead than a comparatively tiny ball of ice and rock millions of miles away. Astronomically speaking, Pluto is not just a "dwarf-planet" (yes, the IAU resolution really did include quotes and a hyphen) to us any longer, but the symbol of the failures and degredation of this entire decade. When we lost Pluto as a planet, a little part of most of us died. Of course, there are silver linings here and there... the Hubble Space Telescope was upgraded and fixed up for several more years of service.
That said, the biggest science stories of the 2000's will inevitably have to include Al Gore (I shudder). His crusade (as Quixote-esque as it may be) to fight "global warming" and save the polar bears have begun to finally wrench free the ironclad grip of oil over America. Whether or not global warming is a real event or just a well-explained hoax, I don't think anyone could deny the fact that moving away from oil and coal toward electric, wind, solar, or nuclear energies and dissipating the hold the Middle East has over us and our pocketbooks is a good thing. Frankly, I think global warming is a farce, but I'll gladly drive a hybrid if it will mean that I don't have to worry about buying gas for $5.00 a gallon anymore.
Personally for me, I will remember the 2000's as the decade I figured out who I am and what I want to do. The 2001 terrorist attacks spurred my love of political research, and thanks to the nurturing of both my professors like Chris Esseltine and my friends in the College Republicans, that love of the system grew into a desire to help shape the future for the better by working to make that system better. Thus far, I've been unsuccessful in my attempts to wedge my way into that elite club of politicos, but tomorrow is another decade, as they say. The last ten years have also been my transition from childhood to adulthood, as I graduated high school with honors, and completed college with a degree I'm proud of, even if it hasn't yet helped me out.
Which brings me to my New Year's conclusion, at a mere one hour and ten minutes away from "Auld Lang Syne." This decade sucked. We all know it. We all know what things were bad, and what things people screwed up royally on. Here's my resolution to the new decade (not just the year, mind you): I'm going to do something to help make things better. It might not be much, and I may never be noticed for my work, but come Hell or high water, I plan to do something to undo the complete travesty that 2000-2009 has made of planet Earth. I hope more people out there would choose to do the same.
Happy New Year, everyone. Goodbye, 2009, and good riddance; hello 2010!