2009: Half full or half empty? (counterpoint)

Cheering loudly for 2010 wasn’t just a way to welcome a new decade. It was also a way to try and rinse the bitter flavor of 2009 from  our mouths. Much like the H1N1 virus, last year’s grievances stubbornly remain floating in the air. After taking the vaccine and putting the past behind us, we celebrated the arrival of the new year, hopeful for some positive change. The new year may be a chance for some redemption, but the aftermath of 2009 certainly isn’t making any of the work easy.

Aaron Rovner | Daily Trojan

The year passed by like a slideshow of sensationalisms and embarrassments: celebrity deaths all around, Miss California’s dismissal, the White House party crashers, Tiger Woods. The despairs over the economy aren’t even close to subsiding anytime soon. And politically, we got hit with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment,  Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s resignation and “going rogue,” along with President Barack Obama’s questionable Nobel Peace Prize award.

I could fit an apt definition of 2009 way under Twitter’s 140-character limit: one big disappointment.

From Obama’s inauguration in the beginning of the year, we should have known the “promised change” couldn’t have come about in just a year. The social unrest and impatience was obvious, however, from the social blunders that littered the news all too often this year.

Attention grabbers like Octomom and the Balloon Boy made us shake our heads with “what were they thinking?” on our minds while outbursts by Kanye West and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson made us realize that celebrities and politicians felt the sting of stress too, albeit with a significant and questionable amount of media coverage. The troubles remained strong even through the end of 2009, going out with the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

I’d like to say we should look past these things and hope for a better year, but the hardships left by 2009 are just too bleak.

The year left sour notes for USC as well, with the fatal hit-and-run in March, President Steven B. Sample announcing his retirement and star running back Stafon Johnson’s injury.

The construction of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and the interactions between major groups among the USC student body, such as the Greek, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender and Interfaith communities were (and remain) important issues that require careful consideration. It isn’t clear yet how USC will get by in 2010, but if the controversial sanctions on the basketball team and Pete Carroll departure for Seattle hitting the front pages are signs, things aren’t going to be easy.

In fact, from 9/11 to the Bush administration to the economy going down the drain, the past decade as a whole left challenge after challenge for the new decade to deal with. It was impossible for the Obama administration to solve that entire mess within a year, and by 2010 that pile has barely been lessened. Many of 2009’s frustrations stemmed from a chaotic inheritance of problems from earlier, and the end of 2009 should remind us of the importance of prioritizing the work ahead.

As a society, we must look back at events like the Balloon Boy hoax and the incident at Fort Hood and think about the cultural implications surrounding them. News stories of violence and scandals like these that were all too common in 2009 pointed out a sense of anxiety that Americans grew all too familiar with. It was a culture of panic with the sinking economy, H1N1 pandemic, and the attempted terrorist attack. Everyone was on edge during 2009; in 2010 we must address that tension with the resolve to work smarter, not harder.

On campus, 2010 should be marked by a close monitoring of the selection of President Sample’s successor, especially with its potential effects on our school’s budgets, politics and community benefits. The university must foster synergy between its respective parts, encouraging discussion and cooperative efforts in order to succeed in this new decade. And those efforts start with the individual.

Personal responsibility will be key to turning away from the embarrassments of 2009 and building a better 2010.

Victor Luo is a junior majoring in English.