You know, if I looked around in my blog archives, I’d probably find a post in which I offered similar reflections, but, eh, so be it. Here are a few thoughts after having watched the movie Flight 93 (originally a TV movie, now checked out from the library), because, much as it’s already late and I need to be up early in the morning, I was surprised at how much I was affected by it.
You know how there are events of the “where were you when. . .” variety that, for Baby Boomers, invariably means “I still remember where I was when Kennedy was shot?” It seems to me that we can generally name a number of such events — e.g., when the Challenger and the Colombia went down, for instance — but there are only two such events that were real turning points, and, for me, they came at transition points in my life to boot.
I was a junior in college when the Berlin Wall fell. Yes, this was before the internet. And this was when I was living in a dorm, so I wasn’t watching the TV news, either. (Later, during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, we gathered in an empty classroom where a TV was set up, in the evenings to watch the reporting.) But I had a subscription to the Detroit News, and, of course, back in the day, the paper was significantly thicker and full of information on the developments, as East Germans sought to leave through Hungary, and then, one magical night, as reported the next day, had the border opened up to them.
That which seemed in my childhood to be a fixed part of the way the world worked, East vs. West, U.S. vs. USSR, disappeared. And we began to hear about the End of History, and the idea that all would be well from here on out, that the world was invariably headed toward peace and prosperity. We were promised a Peace Dividend, and the only question was whether to put that to use in spending or to reduce tax rates accordingly.
And the revelation of September 11th was, of course, that history is not simply an endless march toward ever-greater levels of peace and prosperity, but that there are ups and downs.
Have we fully learned that lesson? I’m not sure — there were certainly enough people who took the Saudis granting women driver’s licenses (when their male guardians gave permission, that is) as a sign that they had taken the first steps on this path towards liberty and freedom, and seem to have then been taken by surprise that the Saudi government is just as repressive as before.
But that’s all I have to say in this brief blog post because, well, it’s past my bedtime. So this is where I invite readers to share their thoughts. What are the major historical turning points in your life and experiences, and what have you taken away from them?
Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:United_Airlines_-_N33286_-_Boeing_737-800_-_San_Francisco_International_Airport-0401.jpg; © Raimond Spekking / , via Wikimedia Commons
Yeah, it’s only tangentially connected to the blog post, but it was conveniently in the photo library.