The year is 2009; the human race is nearing the end of yet another decade. Let’s think about this for a minute. A decade by definition is a time-span of 10 years; it represents a point in history, at least in recent times anyway. If you look back to the 20th Century you can pinpoint each of the ten decades by fashion, world events, music, people, film etc. What will this decade be remembered for?
Media today will try and tell you that this decade meant something, buy into it if you will, but Russell can lay it down for you in a few brief paragraphs. I’m going to start with what I believe to be the most significant event of this decade, September 11th 2001. 2,993 people died as a result of the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, which is relatively not a lot of deaths when compared to wars/natural disasters, but the effect it had on the world was unprecedented. Without going into a detailed discussion on these attacks (something that deserves an article to itself), I am right to say that it pissed a few people off.
On the top of this list was Americans. Everybody in the Western World felt for the victims’ families and friends, but I know that it hit home harder in the land of the free. They didn’t know these terrorists, why did they have to do those things? No-one could produce a clear answer as no-one possessed a clear mind on the event, and rightfully so. Anyway, this one event basically increased the US war effort on terrorism, leading to the 2003 Iraq War that continues to this day. That’s pretty surreal; we’ve been living the majority of this decade in the midst of a war. Take that in for a moment.
While you ponder, I’ve compiled a small non-exhaustive list of tragic events to give some scope as to the horror of this decade: Indonesian Terror Attacks (2000,2002,2003,2004,2005,2009); September 11 Attacks (2001); Gujarat Earthquake (2001); Pearl Harbor (2001);Mumbai Bombing (2003); European Heat Wave (2003); Bam Earthquake (2003); Iraq War (2003-Present); Madrid Train Bombing (2004); Indian Ocean Earthquake/Tsunami (2004); London Bombing (2005); Hurricane Katrina (2005); Kashmir Earthquake (2005); Virginia Tech Massacre (2007); Afghanistan Blizzard (2008); Sichuan Earthquake (2008); Cyclone Nargis (2008); Black Saturday Bushfires (2009); Swine Flu (2009). Take some time to reflect on these events, and look at the loss of human life, especially in the natural disasters; the figures are staggering.
Apart from the grim stuff, this decade has been one of brilliance, both in art and science. Musically it has been awesome, with Indie Rock taking a new shape, and the Rock n Roll legends releasing vintage material. The Flaming Lips this week released their first double album after 26 years of making music (I had to throw that in there as a fan). Film has also been amazing, just look at the release dates of some of the movies in the top 250 on imdb.com and pick your jaw up from the floor. Not to mention the lesser known films that has made a huge impact on my life.
Climate change has been a major topic this decade, helped in part by Al Gore’s 2006 Documentary An Inconvenient Truth. This topic may or may not be on everyone’s minds, but I certainly thought about it the other day when I woke to find red dust filling the morning sky. Technology has been an obvious wonder of this decade. There has not so much been major breakthroughs (as there were in the 90’s) as there have been exponential improvements, for example the fact that we can now access the web from anywhere at any time from your phone; this in itself blows my mind.
And lastly, before you fall asleep, I’ll wake you up with some economics (I am an accountant after all). The Global Financial Crisis that has seen every major economy in the world fall into recession (except Australia…) at some stage over the past 18 months has been labelled the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The greed of fat cats on Wall Street caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and now thousands of people around the world are without jobs, and thousands more are struggling to find employment. Ease up Technical Timmy; I know that’s not the sole reason, but the fact still remains.
OK… so now the history lesson is over, the philosophy lesson begins. Have you ever thought about travelling back in time and visiting/living in a certain decade? Many of us have; the answer usually comes back to live in the 60s/70s, to be a part of the radical peace movement and to experience the beauty of The Beatles/Zeppelin/Stones/Dylan etc. However, although this would be fun, I wouldn’t want to live there knowing what I know about the year 2009. I’m not saying I couldn’t do it; heck I could live in the year 2 and be happy to be alive, I’m just saying that I love living in this year, at this point of time. There are so many exciting innovations happening every day that I am eager to add to my life experience.
And to be realistic, I can’t see time travel being available tomorrow (especially not to some punk without government affiliations), so I’ll leave the dreaming for my bed and start to appreciate life. This year, decade, century whatever is the one that you live in, so soak it up.
To answer the question of what will this decade be remembered for, I can’t answer that; at least not yet anyway. No-one really knew what the 90s stood for until about 5 years ago, when the trends that were evident in that period of time became clear. Another interesting point to make is that this whole concept of a ‘decade’ could be viewed as some media/marketing tool to generate interest in whatever ‘they’ want ‘us’ to be ‘interested’ in. What I’m saying is that time goes on, and splitting it up into 10 year pools is a little silly. I have been alive for 23 years, with each year different from the next. I don’t look at my life as being in the third decade, so why should I subscribe to this conventional wisdom?
After all is said and done, the “naughties” or whatever the decade is called have been some of the best years of my life. I’m not looking forward to the next 10 years to come; I’m looking forward to the next 10 days. Live long and prosper amigos.