Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 in retrospect

I've been spending the day reading through best/worst-of-the-year-type stories and reflecting on the past year. Personally, I feel optimistic about 2010, if only because things can't be as schizophrenic as they were this year. Sometimes it seemed that every bit of good news was followed by the bad and the ugly.

The inauguration of Obama was cause for great celebration, but the "tea-bagger" movement offered a sobering reminder that the conservatives are not going to go quietly into the night. Faux News shed any pretense of being fair and balanced, becoming a platform for The Party of No and the ridiculous conspiracies of demagogues, most notably Glenn Beck.

The political landscape became more polarized than ever and Republicans more shameless than ever, with the sex scandals of Mark Sanford and John Ensign and revelations about the secret shenanigans of the C Street politicians, demonstrating, to paraphrase a friend, that those who most vocally uphold "moral values" have none of their own.

Sarah Palin resigned, but wouldn't go away. Cheney frequently came out of hiding to defend torture and the legacy of the Bush administration.

"Death panels," "Birthers," "Teabaggers," "hiking the Appalachian trail," and "you lie!," became part of the national vocabulary.

Overall, there was a lot of ugliness on display in 2009, from the protest signs of the tea-baggers to the overt gay bashing by Carrie Prejean, not to mention the assassinations of an abortion doctor and the shooting of a security guard at the Holocaust Museum. I doubt, given the obstructionists desire to see Obama and America fail, that the political ugliness will go away in the new year.

It was also a mixed year for gay rights. Iowa proved to be more progressive than New York and California by becoming the third state to legalize gay marriage. Equality suffered setbacks in Maine, New York, and New Jersey and gained ground with Washington D.C., Washington State, and Mexico City. The anti-gay legislation in Uganda and Rwanda should alarm everyone and proves the need for an international resolution protecting sexual minorities.

I'm optimistic about the promise that technology offers in addressing global issues, especially social networking technologies. Facebook and Twitter are not only revolutionizing the way we keep in touch with friends and relatives, but also, they are breaking down geopolitical barriers. Twitter gained notoriety by spreading the word about the protests in Iran. I see great potential for global, grassroots action on a variety of shared concerns ... if we can only be patient and listen to each other.

2009 was a good year for art, music and movies. I read an article in The New York Times about commercial real estate in New York City offering up space for artists so as not to let office space go empty. And despite the economy, it was a good year for the movie industry. I can't remember how many movies I saw this year, but my favorite is Avatar 3D. 2009 was also a good year for music, with many new artists, among personal faves – Fever Ray, Miike Snow, Animal Collective, XX, and Passion Pit.

All in all, I am optimistic about the new year. I hope that this new year we put our best feet foward, celebrate the progress we have made, and hope for a better tomorrow. That despite our differences we reach common ground. To paraphrase Margaret Cho, I hope in the new year you get everything you want, and if not, that you at least have enough.

Share your hopes for 2010 in the comments, and peace and love in the new year.

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