2013-06-05 – My friend Chris posted the following question on Facebook.
Is there still such a thing as “decades”? It’s been almost 15 years since the millennium and it feels kind of all of a piece.
I thought it was an interesting question. Here are my thoughts.
American life has tended to organize itself in eras that are roughly a decade old, but they don’t always coincide with the numerical decades. There were the Roaring Twenties. There was the Great Depression. World War II, fortunately, was a shorter period, running from the late ‘30s to 1945.
To me, the next decade was a kind of placeholder without as much of an identity. The Fifties, as we think of them began probably around 1953, marking the end of the Korean War and the first Elvis recordings. It was also a time of the intense struggle for civil rights. Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1964. The era ended with the Kennedy assassination in 1963 and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Hopes began to fade in the Sixties. The civil rights struggle moved from nonviolent to riots. It was the time of Vietnam. Rock and roll turned to the Beatles. The Sixties lasted until 1974 and the end of the Vietnam War and resignation of Richard Nixon.
The seventies didn’t happen.
The eighties marked a political change, from an era of expanding rights for blacks and women to an era of abject selfishness under Ronald Reagan. The eighties are still trying to hang on. It has been a 30-year decade so far.
But the teens have started. I hope.
We have been remodeling our kitchen. I hope that doesn’t turn into a decade.