The Bridge From 2000

In the place where I live, out of nowhere, about a million of these little guys showed up this weekend. They are the 17-year locusts and as I write, they are humming their presence in the trees.

They went into the ground in the year 2000. So how much has changed between their burial and their birth?

You tell me.

In 2000 a divisive presidential election split the nation into hostile factions. The electoral college decided the outcome until the Supreme Court decided their view on Florida’s outcome in the electoral college. Opponents vowed that George W. Bush would be an illegitimate president.

In 2000 a six-year old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzales, was at the center of a national dispute over whether or not he should, could, or would leave Communist Cuba for the US. The controversy revolved around competing visions of international relations, national security, and foreign policy.

In 2000 Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the USS Cole in the Gulf of Aden. It was the first major successful terrorist attack on an American military symbol since 1983 and pointed to a shift in Al Qaeda’s strategy.

In 2000 an economic recession began, signaling the end of the first Internet boom. Also, AOL and Time Warner completed a merger. Few internet-based companies were turning a profit but investors were excited at the potential of these enterprises, spiking their value in reality if not in revenue.

In 2000 people shook off the doomsday predictions about world-wide disaster from Y2K, the change of computer clocks from the 20th to the 21st century. No big deal, as it turned out. But no one said that at the time.

In 2000 a best-selling author published an e-book, one of the first major editions for this new form of the written word. He was Stephen King and the e-book was a 66-page novella called “Riding the Bullet.” Sales amazed observers with a half-million downloads purchased in the first seventy-two hours of availability online.

In 2000 Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche announced an end to their relationship. The news stirred interest across pop culture media.

In 2000 Oprah Winfrey launched a magazine—O was the name—and said she would be on every cover for the foreseeable future. the goal, aside from market share and brand value, was to help people improve their inner selves.

Done. I won’t bore you with further items.

My point is two-fold. Yes, we’ve had many changes in 2017 but perhaps we should take comfort in, and gain confidence from, the fact that when these locusts went into the ground there were reasons for worry, concern, and even fear. Like the locusts, we survived.

And yes, we’ve had many changes in 2017 but perhaps we ought to admit to ourselves that for all the fuss and fury (sometimes rightfully) displayed in our current events, we would be wise to take a breath, tighten our grip, and steel ourselves for what will be a new set of unknown shocks yet to come. Included in these shocks will be things utterly unimaginable to us at the moment. And true to the locust tradition, we can survive those, too.

I hear whining in the trees. I see light colored husks that once held the young locusts. In a while a new batch of them will burrow into the ground, not to appear again until 2034.

What will be true then, I wonder.