With Christmas behind us, attention now naturally turns to week’s end when another final page will fall from yearly calendars. It is hard to believe that New Years Day will mean the first 10 years of the century are behind us.
In some respects it doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long since we were all worried that Y2K would cause havoc by wiping clean half the world’s computers. Even so, we looked forward anxiously to the dawn of the 21st century, one expected to be filled with great promise.
So far, that promise has gone largely unfulfilled. The first 10 years were tough.
Just think, a decade ago no one had ever heard of the TSA, nor tried to pack a suitcase for a cross-country flight with nothing but sample size bottles of liquids. Before the terrorists attack of Sept. 11, 2001, most of us could not have imagined a government agency like Homeland Security, with vast powers to override personal constitutional protections we once thought sacrosanct.
Just 10 years ago, we were not at war in Iraq nor Afghanistan. Back then, we were well aware of Saddam Hussein, but had never heard of Osama Bin Laden nor al-Qaeda.
Before the 21st century began we all reveled in a fun bit of Millennium Madness. Had we known what the first 10 years would bring, the mood certainly would have been much more somber.
At the turn of the century, U.S. unemployment was 4.2 percent and times were good. Today’s 10 percent unemployment and the prolonged economic woes of not just the U.S. but also much of the world have served as a harsh reminder of how quickly financial conditions can change.
As we looked forward with great anticipation to a new century, we never imagined the devastation that Katrina would bring; never imagined the years it would take to rebuild after such a storm.
But like Christmas, those past 10 years are behind us now. With the coming of each New Year’s Day, there is always the anticipation of a clean slate and new beginnings, an eternal optimism that comes, sometimes, from simply having survived the immediate past.
Bring on 2011. Better times are ahead.