There's a Chinese saying I'm particularly taken with - it's "may you live in interesting times." In culture that generally prizes stability over all else, it's meant to be a curse. But in our rock and roll, roller coaster-loving country, "May you live in interesting times" seems sexy and dangerous. This year certainly has been both. I'm thankful I've gotten a front row seat.
I remember when I was a kid my parents would regale me with stories of the '60s: "We were alive during segregation! Your grandfather threw his WWII medals at me when I told him I wasn't going to Vietnam! We led marches! You would have loved our flower-child wedding! I permanently lost my some of my hearing at a Rolling Stones Concert!" I always felt a little forlorn that I'd missed the boat on clearly the most exciting generation to ever be a part of. I thought my cohorts would never be such passionate activists, we would never have so much at stake, and it would never be as fun.
I don't think that anymore.
I think I've actually come of age in one of the most fascinating times in American history. My adult political consciousness thus far is bookended by debating the Bush v. Gore Florida fiasco in Math class when I was 17 and the election of Barack Hussein Obama when I was 25, and many, many interesting chapters in between. The last year especially has felt like history on meth: it's been so fast and furious -- I feel like I've had these moments of looking up from my computer and saying to myself things like, "Wait, did free market capitalism just end?"
We don't know how this all turns out -- we can pray that there's a happy ending to this period of history. Obama's election may signal that the tide is turning, but it seems like we're staring into some pretty black holes. A rosy patch for me is that the image of the disengaged disaffected, cynical, non-voting young person has been proven wrong. Throngs of young people propelled him to victory in Iowa, and he won the youth vote by 35 points over John McCain. It feels like an incredibly gratifying generational moment.
Despite the troubles we're in and may be ahead, at least I'll have plenty to tell my children: "I protested the invasion of Iraq in 2003! "I was alive when it was legal to discriminate against gay people! Everybody wondered if America was too racist to elect Obama! I lived in New York when Wall Street seemed perpetually on the brink of collapse!
Maybe I'm a little crazy by seeming to be excited that we could all going to hell in a handbasket, but somehow I'm still thankful for all these interesting times.