James Rada, Jr. and Blair Garrett

Catoctin Banner Journalists, Jim and Blair, Face-off!

Does 2020 mark the beginning of a new decade, or is it actually the end of a decade? What do you think?

Let us know at www.thecatoctinbanner.com (Subject line: Decade Debate)

Jim’s Stance

In the debate over whether the decade is ending or still has another year, it’s a simple matter of counting to 10. Let’s count. We all learn to count early in life: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Now apply that to years. Year 1, 2, 3, etc. We don’t say there is a Year 0. There wasn’t.

When whoever started counting years, the first year was Year 1. That means at the end of Year 100, 100 years had passed, and thus ended the first century. At the end of Year 1000, the first millennium ended. At the end of 2020, the second decade of the second millennium ended.

If you want a simpler way to look at it, count out 10 pennies. Do you start by saying 0? No, you start with 1.

Part of the problem is that 0 is a unique number. While every other number represents something, 0 represents nothing. It is the point where nothing happens to something happening.

Yes, I know a big deal was made about the millennium ending on December 31, 1999, but think about it. The date tells you that only 1,999 years had passed under the way we keep time. Not 2,000 years. It may have looked aesthetically pleasing to say that when the 1 in 1999 changed to the 2 in 2000, a new decade started, but the numbers literally do not add up (in this case, to 2,000).

Stance: December 31, 2020, is actually the end of the decade.

Blair’s Stance

Well, Jim, let’s take another look at the numbers. Over the course of history, decades have always been chunked into groups of 10, as we can both agree, but you never hear people refer to the roaring 20s as 1921-1931, do you? We break them into the simplest and most accurate representation of what we’re referencing.

The problem in determining who is right and who is wrong and where the decade begins and ends is more of a philosophical one than a physical one. Yes, if we count from the very beginning of the Common Era, the 10-year cycle restarts on year 11, and all the way until modern times at 2021.

It’s true, there was no year 0. So, at some point, we needed to decide where to begin the FIRST decade. That decision was made long ago, likely in the very first decade of the new era.

Years 1-9 represent the very first decade, if for no other reason, because it makes everything fall on an easy, readable, flat number. Technicalities bog everyone down with what ifs and unnecessary questions. 

The start from this New Year 2020 (January 1, 2020) will be our baseline number for this experiment. Each year has 365 days in it. If we multiply that by 10, the number of years in a decade, we get an even 3,650 days in a full 10 years. Do you know where we end up with that? On a nice, flat and new decade. 

We have to ask ourselves this: Do we want to complicate the decades by including 364 full days from a new set of tens, or should we keep ringing in the new decades the same way we have for the last 2,000 years?

The answer is simple. For simplicity, and common sense really, there’s no need to shift the decade to include 2020 and 364 full days. 

Therefore, when the clock strikes midnight and transitions to the New Year, it must be the start of a brand new decade.

Let’s just agree to continue with January 1, 2020, for everyone’s sanity, shall we?

Stance: January 1, 2020, is actually the start of the decade.

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