There's been lots of really crappy stuff happening the last five years, but we're still around. The country is still working. People are still creating and loving and believe in good. There have been abuses of power of such magnitude that threatened to tear down everything for which our forebears worked so long and so hard. Even the most optimistic of us has, at times, been prone to cynicism, regret, anger, and lost hope. But somehow, it seems, life has gone on. Friends still mean everything to us, and we party like we have no cares in the world.
In New York, especially, probably, we still hold our bags a little closer, and look around with suspicious eyes, "just in case," but for the most part, it's business-and-life-as-usual. Are we safer, or more in danger than we were then? Who can truly know? All we can do is hope, and continue to voice our concerns.
Last week's Facebook furor (see previous posts) has, at least, proven that our generation does care, and that, if enough of us speak as one, the voices will be heard. There's a mound of hope in that. So many people have written us off. We're "dropping the ball." We're lazy. We're apathetic. I think, in its own little way, this past week has proven otherwise. Was the backfire misguided? Sure. But every generation, every civil movement, has had its missteps. I know I am, in a way, giving this "protest" a little more credit than it is due, but I see it as a piece of something larger. Who would believe that such a storm would erupt about a simple website? It seems clear to me, at least, that Facebook changing the way they distribute information is not the real issue for all those who became so upset. It might be simply a scapegoat for some hidden, unspeakable fear. About technology, about humanity, privacy, terrorism, or who knows what. Something very real is making people question their place, question their safety, and I surely don't think it is the News Feed, or even al-Qaeda, for that matter. It's something deeper than all that, and I can't pretend to know what it might be. But it is exciting to sense a growing energy and motivation in my peers.
I, personally, have a lot of hope for the next five years. I can't even begin to imagine all of the amazing things that might happen - that we will be responsible for. Us. We have been given the world, and it is time to do shit with it. We can't be afraid to say what we feel is right and push for things to change. They'll hear us. I believe that.
Five years from now, there may still be no memorial in Lower Manhattan. But that's okay, kind of. Because all along, we've managed to find a place to mourn and remember and love that isn't tied to a physical site. Something called spirit, or love. We find it in ourselves. We find it in the eyes and embraces of friends and family.
To me, this is what we've learned in the last five years: In a world of uncertainty, we do have things we can count on. They're a room away, down the hall, a subway or car ride or plane flight away, a phone call or even an email/instant message away. And no matter how we connect to them - be it physically, or digitally, or purely in our thoughts - the important thing is that we remember the connection.
This is where hope for a better world is cultivated and may grow.
This is why I'm not afraid, really, that much.