In my commute from work to home, I pass by several shopping centers, especially as I get closer to home. A couple of days ago, I was passing by one of them, and a mattress store (or was it the furniture store) was advertizing its finance plan, of “Buy now, pay no interest till 2010!”
And that’s when it hit me: We’re now in the eighth year of being in the 21st century, and we’re two years away of having the first *decade* of the 21st century be over.
I suddenly feel — well, not *old* per se but reflective. Contemplative. Of the passage of history.
Later in the spring, I’ll be turning 36 years old. When I was born in early 1972, the Cold War was still in full swing. Nobody could imagine a world that wasn’t locked in the duality of the Communist World and the Capitalist World. When I was born in 1972, cars were huge, civil rights movements were active (integration of schools and women’s rights), and technology was only for the very rich.
I never thought I’d ever see the end of the Cold War in my lifetime. But there it was — the fall of 1989, live footage of the Berlin Wall coming down.
When I was born, war in the Middle East was something that happened “over there” — until 1991, with the first Gulf War, and my family was on pins-and-needles, wondering if my father’s reserve status would be activated and he’d have to deploy.
Terrorism was also only something that happened “over there”… until 1993, with the bombing of the World Trade Center.
And domestic terrorism was virtually unheard of — until the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, which hit entirely too close to home (I live in the DFW metroplex, and the Hubby’s from Oklahoma).
Then things seem to calm down… and the only thing that worried folks at the end of the 20th century was Y2K: “Oh, no, the computers will go wonky, and technological civilization will end as we know it!” Seems quaint, these days. For it wasn’t Y2K that would be the world-changer.
It would be 9/11.
Here we are, 2008, and we’re still talking about what happened in late 2001. But the force of events in this new century is spurred by the new age of terrorism and security and ethnic profiling. 9/11 has haunted everything — 2001, war in Afghanistan against the Taliban. 2003, the second Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom. And both military operations, in Afghanistan, in Iraq — in this brave new world of the War against Terrorism — are still going on (under various names, as new reasons, new policies, have shifted), and here it is 2008.
An election year. And I, a Jeffersonian libertarian, who actually held her nose and voted for Bush in 2004 (it was the “we need to finish what we started in Iraq” mentality that did it), who will I vote for? Who will I trust my country to be its executive chief, from now until the second decade of the 21st century?
Not Republican, I can tell you that. Eight years of the Bush juggarnaught soured me of anything the Republican Party has to offer. And the candidates themselves — oh boy. Romney? I don’t need another businessman-turned-governor (George W. Bush, anyone?). Reverend Huckabee, pandering to the Moral Majority, makes my skin itch. And ex-Mayor Guiliani just doesn’t have the chops to be a federal executive — it’s a huge gap between a mayor’s office and the Oval Office, even if he was the mayor of NYC when 9/11 happened. And McCain? Too much of an insider, perhaps. (And yes, that’s an understatement.)
So it looks like the Democratic Party, this time around.
Hilary Clinton‘s ping-ponging between extremes make her cold to me as a presidential candidate. Also, some pro-Clinton folks seem to join her husband’s experience and legacy with hers, which is erroneous. Her public service career began in 2000, as Senator of New York. “First Lady” does not mean “co-President.”
So even though he is young as a federal-level pollitician and inexperienced in weilding executive power, Obama is very appealing — a conservative Democrat, if you can imagine such a creature. A state senator for eight years and three years into his first terms as US Senator, he has some credentials when it comes to how a federal republic works. The fact that he’s biracial is of no consequence to me, although for many it is, as racially charged the United States of America is.
And that’s another thing, that the 21st century is different from the 20th: In the Democratic Party, who could imagine, when I was born in 1972, that the top two contenders for the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States would be a white woman and a biracial man in 2008?
Daniel, born in late 2007, will grow up in a world that he’ll take for granted, whereas his GenXer mother will equally wonder at and be appalled at it. It’s a new world for me, a child of the the late 20th century, but it’s Daniel’s — and all those 21st century babies’ — world.
As adults, we must work towards creating a future so that, when we’re long gone, our children and children’s children will have a world in the 21st century that they can live, be free, and pursue happiness. We can’t just pray and hope and wait. We have to work. We have to act. We have to do our part.
That’s my New Year’s Resolution — to do my part to make the 21st century world a good place. Yes, I’m just one, little person, not very important in the grand scheme of things. But every little bit counts.
[Note: I added the link to This I Believe, after a reader’s comment pointed it out to me.]