The 2010s have been the first decade I have been fully conscious of for its entirety, and it has certainly been a transformative one. Politically, this decade has seen uprisings and tumult from every political wing; as for social progress, however you define it, the events have been a mixed bag. It is hard to broach this topic without becoming incendiary or blinded by bias, which I endeavor to avoid, and perhaps this is the essential characteristic of this decade. Every facet of our lives has seemingly become politicized and, in the process, polarized.
What is more disturbing is the self-censorship and silence a mass of people in this decade have enveloped themselves in. For others, this decade has seen them find their voice and shaken the globe to its core through demonstration and revolution; they have cast either the ballot or the bullet in the words of Malcolm X. To name some events that come to mind: the ongoing Hong Kong protests, the Arab Spring, the European migrant crisis, the rise of right-wing populism in Europe and America, the Anti-Fascist demonstrations globally, Occupy Wallstreet, the Black Lives Matter movement, Brexit, the 2016 election in the US (and just about every day politically since then), impeachment, and much more. For instance, that list omits the many environmental changes that are inextricably linked to many of these political events in fashions that cannot be enumerated. However, I can say, with absolute conviction, that we have crossed the Rubicon of our century. The bets hedged in the past few years are too high for our future to result in anything tranquil. We have sown the seeds we will reap throughout this century in this pivotal decade.
When a general election can split families apart, turning a peaceful Thanksgiving for an apolitical family in 2015 to estranging siblings and parents by the next, then we can be sure we have been treading down a path that ends in nothing but a crescendo. After learning about the concept of conceptual schemes in the second unit of Humanities this semester, it seems like a perfect tool to incise this situation with. The aforementioned conflicts are all symptoms of conflicting conceptual schemes, and the harsh reality that paradigm shifts do not occur gently, no, they occur with revolution.
An Update from 2020
It certainly would be understatement to say that this new decade has been off to a troubled, yet rapid start. I will neglect a commentary on the coronavirus as you can find an overwhelming plethora of astute observations from others at this time. However, connecting it to the previous piece of writing here, our current situation makes us wonder where we are going. In the labyrinth that is the unending passage of time, what choices have we been making and what destination are we choosing for ourselves. A crisis is one thing, but a crisis in the atmosphere we have cultivated in the previous decade is like lighting a candle next to a powder keg. Less extreme events have pushed humanity over the edge than this pandemic: the assassination of an Archduke, the deportation of a political dissident to Tsarist Russia by the German Empire, or a bad case of hemorrhoids costing Napoleon Waterloo. Or, will this be a centering crisis? Will this brush with death make us realize how close we as humans really are on a base level: a “community in death” to use the phrase of Alphonso Lingis. All in all, one can only wonder where our choices are getting us in this labyrinth… farther or closer to a destination.