Put on your rose-colored glasses

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I’ve had a headache all week, and I think I’ve started a few others as well.

Only a week ago did it dawn on me that this Dec. 31 was a special one. The end of 2009 is more than the end of a year; it’s the end of a decade.

And what a decade it’s been.

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Nationally, we’ve lived through Y2K, hanging chads, iPhones, terrorists, American Idol, Reagan’s death, a tsunami, a shooting at Virginia Tech, Katrina, a wardrobe malfunction, Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, Facebook, Obama’s election, foreclosures, the dot-com crash and more.

But you’ll hear plenty about all of that on CNN and FOXNews, I’m sure.

It’s 10 years of the Miss-Lou that have been making my brow furrow.

I started flipping through bound volumes of our newspaper last Monday, and I haven’t stopped yet.

You’ve seen some of the stories I found rehashed on the front page this week. We’ll continue to recap the decade until Thursday.

Thinking back 10 whole years is difficult — just ask the sources I’ve called upon this week.

Almost everyone has to pause and reflect for a minute before plowing through the biggest news of the last 10 years.

IP, new mayors, a rubber plant, flooding, snow, Katrina, soldiers, convention centers, tax hikes, several correctional facilities, the Trace, murders, tort reform, condos, Rentech, Trinity sports titles, new superintendents, Binkey Vines, gas prices and a cougar — it’s enough to make your head hurt, trust me.

Luckily, thanks to some wonderful community members with great memories, my work hasn’t been so difficult.

It’s been a rough decade in the Miss-Lou, most agree.

But a look at the recent Time Magazine cover headline “The Decade from Hell,” reminds us that we aren’t alone in this boat.

What’s happening nationally affects the Miss-Lou, certainly, and this decade there’s been a lot of bad.

We need to remember that many of the horrible things that happened in our area recently may have been out of our control.

And we need to keep a positive outlook going strong if we hope to make the next decade a better one.

Nearly everyone we’ve quoted in an article this week inspired me with his or her optimism. Even those forced to talk about bad things that happened to people and things they love forced themselves to mention the good things first.

Decade from Hell? It’s easy to argue that it was sure close in Natchez anyway.

But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

The Miss-Lou is starting a new 10-year period smarter, stronger and more adaptable.

We don’t rely on smokestack industry anymore. We don’t have a perfect set of leaders untouchable by challengers. And we know how to help each other in times of tragedy.

This decade, Natchez has taken steps to treat tourism like the moneymaker it should be. We’ve learned that business leaders can’t sit on the sidelines and let elected officials handle everything. And we are beginning to understand that if you don’t vote you can’t complain.

Decade from Hell? Call it like you see it, but let’s stop dwelling on the negatives and begin working paving the way to heaven.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.