Negative events just keep on coming

Published 9:43 pm Friday, January 14, 2011

dIt seems like every generation has at least one great moment on which it can hang its hat. There is always that one time-stopping revelation or conquest that somehow makes all the other negatives almost worth it.

John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated, moments that made the generation before mine stop and take account of where they were in their lives. But they remember the first time someone landed on the moon. They heard the iconic words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

That generation remembers well when the Apollo 13 mission went awry. But they also remember when the astronauts aboard the vessel safely returned to Earth.

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They remember the draft and watching the country’s young men shipped overseas to Vietnam. But they also remember the conflict ending. And even with its less than favorable results, the conclusion of the matter was a good thing.

There was the Munich massacre of 1972, Watergate and disco.

The 1980s brought the assassination of John Lennon, the attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Challenger explosion, Tiananmen Square and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. But it also brought great moments such as the destruction of the Berlin Wall and all the that it represented.

Shortly thereafter the 90s brought the end of the Cold War, the release of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent end of apartheid in South Africa as well as the launch of the Hubble Telescope. There was the beginning of the Gulf War. But it ended shortly there after.

For all the overwhelmingly bad moments, there was some good some where. There always seemed to be a yin for all the yang.

After turning 29 Thursday, it occurs to me that my generation needs a win. We need a win badly.

We’ve endured the Branch Davidians, the Columbia tragedy, the Los Angeles riots, the assorted affairs of a president, The Beltway Sniper, the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech gunman, the B.P. oil spill, the events of 9-11 and the seemingly endless war that has since followed.

Now we can add to our list the senseless shooting at a Tucson, Ariz. political rally just last weekend.

Those who came before my generation can remember where they were in the good times. They know what they were doing when the Allies defeated Japan, man walked on the moon, the Apollo crew made it home safely or the Berlin Wall fell.

My generation is not yet so fortunate. Our iconic images are not of lovesick sailors kissing their brides after returning home from a mission accomplished.

They are not of an American flag being speared into the dust of the moon’s surface. The soundtrack of our memories does not include phrases like “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Instead, we are stuck with less inspiring images. We remember a white Bronco leading a slow speed chase down the interstate and people trapped on their rooftops as floodwaters continued to rise. And the most memorable sound bite of our era?

Try “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

It is beginning to look as if our yin may have no yang. That is a depressing notion. But it is one that will be difficult to dispel until we find a win somewhere.

Jeremy D. Smith is the community editor of The Demopolis Times.