The power of collective memory

31 12 2008

For some reason, it’s really bugged me how all the news people keep saying that 2008 was a really crappy year.  Of course, the last half of the year has been filled with financial doom and gloom, which is fair, but was it really that bad?  Or more importantly, who has the right to tell me what my year was like?  Even in the very worst of years (and I don’t think this is it) good things happen.  There are surely people who had a really good 1933, or 1929.  People got married in those years, fell in love, had babies.  People enjoy personal triumphs every year, no matter what happens to a nation as a whole.  But collective experience is a powerful thing, and so I do hear a lot of people walking around saying how crappy 2008 was, without (I think) really examining what happened this year.  As for financial issues, yes, there are many people very directly affected by this, whether they were laid off, experienced bankruptcy or foreclosure, or couldn’t get a new job.  But I think the worst is yet to come, and there are plenty of people who haven’t experienced any financial difficulties yet.  For me, I think it’s been a decent year, if nothing to jump for joy about.  I’m not looking for a job until next summer, I’m financially stable, and in fact there have been some good things going on financially – flights got way cheaper and the price of milk even went down a bit.  Personally, the second half of the year has been hard just because there have been no holiday celebrations and I haven’t seen my family since this time last year, but it’s not all bad.  I’m having a friend over for New Year’s Eve dinner and we’ll have some nice food and I’ll go to bed way before midnight like the old lady I am.  So happy new year, everyone, and remember – you are not your own country.  Live your own successes and failures, and enjoy your own agency.  It’s a beautiful thing.

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