What makes it even worst though is that I don't think we (the American
people) learned the lessons of the mistakes made this past decade. I also
don't think we grew during these tumultuous times.
We were at war with terrorism (and still are) but we acted like it was
peace time. Let me explain. After 9/11 there was an immediate sense
of wanting to go back "normalcy." Go back to doing what you did before.
But things weren't the same, things changed. We are now back to
treating terrorists like mere criminals by closing Gitmo and giving
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a criminal trial. Lesson not learned. We
spent money like we were in peace time. Some even buying houses
they couldn't afford.
We didn't stay focused on the important things. This decade was not
lacking for important current events. However, the tabloidazation of
news continued. The deaths of Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson
garnered way too much coverage by our mainstream news outlets.
And I now know way more about Tiger Wood's personal life than I
need or desired to know. Like I said lesson not learned. Before 9/11
most Americans didn't even know who Osama bin Laden was or that
the terrorist organization al-Qaeda existed. Did we not learn the
lesson that tabloid news makes us less informed and we need to keep
focused on important things like the people who want to kill us?
Culturally, we aren't faring any better either. I think Jonah Goldberg
explained it beautifully when he writes how reality shows are
emblematic of a cultural decline:
Long before the rise of reality shows, ecumenical niceness created a
moral vacuum. Out-of-wedlock birth was once a great shame; now
it's something of a happy lifestyle choice. The cavalier use of profanity
was once crude; now it's increasingly conversational. Self-discipline
was once a virtue; now self-expression is king.Reality-show culture has thrived in that moral vacuum, accelerating
the decay and helping to create a society in which celebrity is the new
nobility. One senses that Richard Heene thought -- maybe still thinks
-- that the way to make his kids proud of him was to land a reality
show. Paris Hilton, famous for being famous thanks in part to a
"reality" sex tape released days before her 2003 reality show
"The Simple Life," is now a cultural icon of no redeeming value
shunned. It is no longer the case. During difficult times one could assume
there would be a clinging to certain moral standards.
Another lesson not learned: God matters. After 9/11 there was a spike
in church attendance but it went back to normal shortly. Atheism is on
the rise in the U.S. If war and economic woes doesn't bring us to evaluate
what is important in life (God) what will? If anything this decade has
taught me that evil most certainly exists. Evil is Osama bin Laden. Pure
evil was in the 19 hijackers on 9/11. We saw evil in Saddam Hussein. We
see evil in the Taliban. We see evil in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We see
evil in Kim Jong-il. And the list can go on. We can't fight evil with moral
relativism. Yet, moral relativism rules the day.
When I reflect on this past decade I can only think of the missed
opportunities for growth. So to sum up the past ten years I can't
help but say, "Lesson not learned."