| by Romer Cherubim
( November 5, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) What is your favourite decade? This is a question many people like to ask. For some, it is the 60s - the period that brought us JFK, flower power and revolution. Others remember fondly the 70s, which saw the advent of disco music. Keeping to this chronology, how should we view the 80s?
The 80s was undeniably a decade of strong government in the West with Margaret Thatcher dominating the political scene in U.K. and Ronald Reagan doing the same in U.S.A. In the Eastern bloc, President Mikhail Gorbachev emerged as a credible leader with whom the West could finally do business. The unifying feature of all three politicians’ tenure of office was that they sold a clear vision for their respective countries, to the people they served. In the case of Gorbachev, he had perhaps the most challenging task - that of convincing his people that the system he inherited and which had lasted for many years, was in need of urgent overhaul if the nation was to prosper.
The Western political philosophy of the day spread into other areas as the power of the individual was promoted in the 80s. In this regard, the decade saw the emergence of power dressing. Women would have shoulder pads in the suits they wore to the office. Men, on the other hand, would be seen having business conversations on big mobile telephones. It was definitely a period of excess, whose beneficiaries probably thought they were having a non-stop party, where the champagne would never stop flowing.
In the West, the 80s were famous also for the music. Disco was a memory, replaced by a novel creation, in which keyboards replaced guitars. The resultant sound was called new wave music. With it, came a new type of dressing, where the difference between the genders became blurred. This could be seen most readily on visits to leading nightspots in Western capitals. At such places, it would not be unusual to see men wearing women’s make-up and with neatly coiffed hair, dancing unobtrusively with their girlfriends and wives.
All in all, we witnessed a definite change in people’s attitudes to their affairs in the West in the 80s. The 60s and 70s highlighted social interaction, whereas the 80s
represented a time, when we were encouraged to take more of an interest in our professional lives with the promise that if we did so, the rewards would be there for the taking.
Nostalgia is a wonderful thing as we human beings have it in our psychological DNA to retain special memories of times we cherish. However, nostalgia is no substitute for progress. For progress to happen, times must and do change. Fads and attitudes outlive their usefulness. They are replaced by new ways of thinking, more suitable for the times in which we live. Periods of time are markers in our development.
Here’s to what this decade will bring!