Tear Down That Wall

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Here are a couple of my tweets from earlier today:

These two observations are linked because in the latter one, I knew everything going into my first day of Grade 1, and I also knew everything going into my first day of university. My second day of university was a little more modest as before any of my classes started the planes had already struck the Twin Towers. Over the past twelve years I’ve conceded that I don’t know as much as I previously claimed to (as my Socrates doll stares at me from his spot on the bookshelf). In Grade 1 I was so smart that I brought up the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War in conversation at lunch. Expectedly, the other kids had no idea what I was talking about. Being able to hold onto that smug intellectual superiority at six years of age kept it with me through to eighteen years of age, when after another major world event it was everyone else around me who had the confidence that they knew everything. I saw the error of my previous ways in other people.

I’m still sanctimonious on many issues and have opinions galore, and the topics I bring up at lunchtime conversation (or did, until a very recent change that makes “lunchtime conversation” coming home to eat in peace) are beyond the interest and/or comprehension of the people around me. But these aren’t as accusatory or politically charged on the issue du jour as I’ve seen since I was 18. I’m not out to prove other people wrong. I don’t think I should be in control of the world. I don’t try to win by being louder. Maybe I’m a hipster for wanting to explore other things, but I won’t talk over you or force you to listen.

Occasionally @neiltyson will post comparisons to how major historical events that are memories of living people are chronologically closer to times we see as the distant past than they are to today. This is the concept that brought the first tweet to life (with, of course, tomorrow being the 12th anniversary of 9/11 bringing the event to mind). On that day in 2001 I don’t know what people 30 and over were thinking in regards to the progress of world events since the falling of the Berlin Wall, but this observation has, to me, made the past 12 years look stagnant. Please, correct me by pointing out all the things that are vastly different. Point out what little change there was from 1989 to 2001 and that it’s all biased from my perspective as a child at the time. It doesn’t make me feel old to think that the same amount of time has passed from one age to another as it has to today. It disappoints me at how unproductive public dialogue has been in my adulthood so far.

We can measure these events chronologically. How can we measure them socially?

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