The first decade of the 21st century closes—not with a bang nor even a whimper but with an exhausted, bleary-eyed, subdued gasp for something fresh, something new; something that is truly beautiful, ennobling, or offers the hope of redemption because the 2000s were none of those things.
Usually decade endings years end with a climactic rush of events; a hope of something better for the next decade; a premonition of what is to come. 1969 was like that. So was 1989 and 1999.
This decade offered none of this. Instead we’re backing into the 2010s with a sense of numbness, apprehension, and fear. Actually it reminds me of 1979. 1979 was fraught with economic crises; rising energy costs; political and social malaise; a lack of faith in our leadership; America beleaguered abroad by its ideological and spiritual opponents (remember the Iranian embassy hostage crisis?)
When I look back at this past decade one word keeps punching me in the face: waste. If I had to define the 2000s I would use that word: waste. The 2000s was a wasted decade for America and the world: wasted resources; wasted opportunities for improvement, change, and growth; wasted words; wasted monies; wasted gestures; wasted time; and the most tragic, saddening, devastating waste of all time: beautiful, brave, magnificent, innocent lives lost, taken from us, wasted.
I am struck by the despair this past decade has caused in all walks of not only American life but in every day life around the world. I feel like the high priest in the Bible watching the Temple curtain being torn in two the day Jesus was crucified. I sense an unraveling; a world being undone deliberately or unwittingly by our own devise. We see the damage being done. We express shock, dismay, and concern. We try to make changes as best as we can yet the unraveling, the uncoupling continues and, to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, the people come and go and talk of Michelangelo.
What about me, personally? All I can say about myself, at the end of this decade is that I am still alive. Don’t ask me how or why? But I’m still alive. For me, what interests me about 2010 are the following: how will the American electorate express itself on Election Day 2010. Will it be a repeat of 1994 when the G.O.P. recaptured the House and Senate? If so then who will lead the G.O.P. resurgence? What will the Phillies do in 2010? Can they win a third pennant in a row? The last National League team to win three pennants was the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals. If the Eagles fail to reach the Super Bowl next month what will become of Donovan McNabb?
For me personally, my personal challenges are this: continuing my hockey oral history research, completing my hockey coach articles and converting them into a book worthy of publication; climbing Mt. Katahdin in Maine in October and trying to survive 2010 intact physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Most of all, I want some peace and quiet.