Friday, December 31, 2010


I've noticed from a lot of my Facebook friends that they are wishing goodbye and good riddance to 2010. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that 2010 was a particularly dreadful year.

I'm not really sure where this attitude comes from.

I'm not really sure what year in the 53 or so I have lived through would be or would have been something better than dreadful.

Yeah, I know, I'm hardly an optimist. But let's think about this.

During virtually all the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, the specter of nuclear annihilation hung over us. We had red alerts during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a president in Reagan who seem to think a) Nuclear war was winnable and b) It's all some kind of a joke anyway.

We had Viet Nam and major metropolitan areas ravaged by race riots and drug-induced crime and mayhem.

New York in the 70s teetered on the brink of anarchy. Soldiers shot students in Ohio. Millions of people died of AIDs. In the 50s, 60s and into the 70s, millions of black people couldn't vote, eat in restaurants, use public transportation. Disney, famous for his mice and his anti-semitism refused to hire black workers for Disneyland until 1963.

We've lived through sundry genocides. In the former Yugoslavia and in wide swaths of Africa. Pakistan and India have been pointing nukes at each other on hair trigger for about the past two decades.

We've had Bhopal. Thousands of disappearances in Argentina. American support for fascist regimes in much of the world, Chile, Viet Nam, El Salvador.

And as for advertising, we've been looking back to some purported "golden age" forever. It always used to be better.

My point is simple. There's a lot of pain and suffering in the world. Every year has millions of offenses large and small that impel wise men to think of suicide. But we get through these offenses.

Work hard. Do your job well. Take care of your family. Be nice to strangers. Try to listen.

That's all we can do.


Tore Claesson said...

Yes, the lucky and the privileged can get through all the bad stuff that happens, because they are not REALLY touched by it. It only happens around them, not TOO them.

mary said...

not sure if thats all we can do. but a good start nonetheless.

wise post. thank you for this. its all too convenient to lose perspective and forget about the pain and suffering the really unlucky have to endure in this world.

lots of luck and love for the next year and beyond to you and all the other strangers on here.

george tannenbaum said...

You're probably right, Mary. I was working under the theory that saving one life is the equivalent saving the world.