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Thursday, December 31,2009

A look back at the Aughts

By Pamela White

The first decade of the new millennium started on a humorous note, as millions of Americans hunkered down with caches of bottled water and canned food to ride out the anticipated chaos of Y2K. The stroke of midnight passed, and the world went on as it was. There’d been no need to party like it was 1999, unless you just wanted to party.

There’s a superstition in my family that the way you enter a new year shapes that entire year. Back in 1999, so many Americans were afraid that a Y2K catastrophe would strike that by New Year’s Eve, many local supermarkets were sold out of bottled water. If anything defines “the Aughts” it is catastrophe — or, perhaps more aptly, the fear of catastrophe.

Y2K turned out to be nothing but media-fueled hysteria. But true disaster lay not far around the corner.

On the second Tuesday in September, Boulder County residents arrived at work to learn that two planes had collided with the Twin Towers in New York. In disbelief, we watched the towers collapse, knowing that thousands of our fellow Americans had just died.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 still cast a shadow of fear over our country and are arguably the defining moment of the decade. From there, the nation descended into war. We remain at war, with far-reaching consequences that we can’t yet fathom.

This week, Boulder Weekly staff looks back at events that shaped the past decade. More than a time to reminisce, the new year and new decade give all of us a chance to reconsider what we’re doing and to resolve to do better from now on, both as individuals and as a nation. Here’s hoping that the Teens will see a nationwide shift away from fear, and the anger that inevitably comes with it, to compassion and compassionate action.

In the meantime, enjoy this look back — and Happy New Year!

Pamela White, editor, Boulder Weekly

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