Recently, I've developed the habit of looking back and pondering life's lessons. Perhaps that's because, at this point, my own personal timeline extends further in that direction than the other.
In any case, I think we all could benefit from a close examination of the decade just past -- the "Oughts," some have dubbed it -- to see what we can learn, collectively.
For example, we learned that a certain number of swarthy young men of Middle Eastern descent will, if they can, hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings. In response to this revelation, the federal government created the Transportation Safety Administration to keep our airways safe from little old ladies.
We learned that the American people actually prefer "reality" television shows to the scripted variety. We also learned that the main difference between reality and scripted shows is that the former have worse scripts and worse acting.
We learned that, over the course of the past 100 years, the earth has been warming, then cooling, then warming, then cooling again. In fact, scientists have coined a term to describe this phenomenon. They call it "weather."
Speaking of weather, we learned that George Bush, who according to many pundits couldn't string two sentences together, was nevertheless capable of conjuring up an enormous hurricane just because, in the words of noted philosopher Kanye West, "he doesn't like black people."
We also learned that the federal government must add to its many other roles that of first responder -- at least in areas where decades of Democrat excess and corruption have rendered state and local governments essentially helpless.
We learned that Hollywood types, despite having less education than the typical fry cook, tend to hold strong opinions on topics like politics, the environment and marriage. They're also not shy about sharing those opinions with us -- when they're not in rehab, defending themselves against charges of sex with minors or working out the details of their fifth divorce.
In the world of college athletics, we learned that "old school" coaches like Bobby Knight and Joe Paterno, who demand discipline and accountability, are out of touch with the modern athlete. The new order, in which budding young superstars are demi-gods, requires John Caliparis and Lane Kiffins to serve as role models for a life of narcissistic self-indulgence.
Speaking of narcissism, we learned that we are the ones we've been waiting for. Personally, I'm waiting for the guy who's trying to back his SUV into a narrow parking space at the mall, but whatever.
We learned that newspapers are dying because most Americans are semi-literate Neanderthals, not because far-left-leaning editorial policies insult the majority of readers on a daily basis. Interestingly, we learned this from reading newspapers.
And, finally, we learned that the American people have the courage and resiliency to survive almost anything -- except, perhaps, their own irrational and impulsive electoral decisions.
Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.