With the rising of the sun this Friday morning, we will welcome in the second decade of the 21st century. It is hard not to remember the fear that was present when the beginning of this century came to pass. There were predictions that the world would financially collapse. Computers that we all came to rely on may not recognize the new calendar date, shutting down, leaving us in the dark starting the year 2000.
Fortunately those forecasts of doom faded faster than many New Year resolutions. We looked toward the future with a renewed hope for an improved life. It did not take long to change how we will remember this new decade. 9-11 has become a term written in history much like remember the Alamo and Pearl Harbor. It is a moment so embedded in the DNA of our memories it will be passed on to countless generations that follow us in this world.
The new century soon gave us a war that seems to have no end. The far away conflict continues to demand the sacrifice of our country's young men and women to protect our freedoms. In lands dating back into Biblical history, we send our soldiers to fight an enemy hidden before our eyes. We fight a distorted belief in the Muslim religion simply because we are free Americans. Not because we have lands or vast riches they desire. Not that we have offended them in their homes or lives. It is because we live in a different world than they do. When war is based on something so intangible as to only reside in the minds of others, it is hard to stop.
The new century also gave us something else to ponder in our daily world; carbon footprint. Perhaps this term was around in the last century, but was not marketed as well as it is today. Going green and carbon footprint are words we hear and see almost every day. Before this new word my only footprint was the muddy ones that my wife pointed out, as I forgot to clean my shoes before entering the house.
Our world is changing every day around us. Ice caps and thousands of year old glaciers are melting into the seas. How much is the result of man and how much is the earth's own doing? I don't know. And unfortunately, it seems neither does anyone else. Those on one side cry the sky is falling and those on the other side chose to say the sky is higher than ever. They cannot put aside their preconceived notions and find the truth. In several generations, our great-great-grandchildren will be born in a world that is different than ours. Will it be the world we believe we now have or the world some predict they will find?
When Y2K came upon us some predicted financial collapse as the computers in the world shut down. That collapse did not come at the fault of the evil computers but at the expense of the government, banks, and our rush into the world economy. Government pushed to make it easier to buy the American dream of a new home. At the same time, they pushed to increase our global financial footprint by looking the other way as jobs left. Many large financial centers pushed money out the doors so fast and no one noticed the huge amounts they paid themselves for doing a good job. In the end, the American people picked up that tab to save those institutions who just a little over a year ago were in bad financial shape. Amazingly, today they are once again rewarding themselves with billions in bonuses as millions of Americans struggle to find jobs.
Our country was financially strong in the last century, because we built our nation with good jobs created by business and a government who represented the citizens of our country. Today, it seems some politicians represent their own interest first and ours second. Many large businesses, with the government's blessing, have moved beyond our borders to build their products. Americans are expected to buy those products, even though the loss of those same jobs also means lost wages.
The local superstore shelves are filled with thousands of items made in countries that in the last century made war on our country and its ideals. This century they found they do not have to make war on us, they only have to buy us at superstore prices. China, a communist country we once feared as a world military power, now holds untold billions in American debt.
If we continue to see our heavy industrial jobs go elsewhere in the world, we also should expect to see the money follow. Education, health care, and our country's infrastructure are based on good jobs, not on industry jobs supplemented by foreign governments.
In Washington, we hope those we send to represent us will strive to improve our country and our lives. Many of them seem to be there to only represent the ideals of their political party.
A sixth grade student that is good in social studies could use a piece of chalk to draw a line on the floor of the senate and house to show the divide between the parties. When those representing us are that predictable, we are not being represented as citizens, but as political ideals.
As we enter this decade, I wonder what the new challenges will be for my family and myself. I will soon join the growing list of baby boomers who will retire to find a new life after years working a good job. My grandson will soon begin wearing the uniform of an American soldier. By this time next year, it may find him protecting our freedoms in a faraway place. He will join all the sons and daughters, moms and dads that are making this sacrifice for each of us. I hope they will all return home safely.
This New Year's Eve when you make your resolution, be sure to include the hope that our great country will find a new beginning toward peace and prosperity. That may be a little naive to wish for, but our nation was built on the belief that if we work hard we can accomplish almost anything. May 2010 find you and your family safe and hopeful as I look Thru the Lens.