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The hatching of 2005 (01/09/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

As the first month of 2005 breaks through a promising dawn, thoughts of what a new year might bring is both troubling and challenging. Time will tell. The late John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans."

My predictions of trends and tendencies in 2005:

One of the country's current, most notorious figures, Martha Stewart will likely cash-in big time on her harrowing five-month prison sentence. I foresee a lucrative book deal and a fight for prison reform on the horizon. Apart from her complaint of "bad prison food," her incarceration might turn out to be a humbling "good thing."

Wishful thinking, I dare to envision fellow-Americans, and our government, reaching out to our country's poverty stricken, in exchange of extravagant spending. The sad truth is, one of five children in rural America, and 16% in metropolitan areas, live below the poverty line. Lost in their desperate needs, unemployment for them is skyrocketing, education is poor, and county services are severely limited.

Cloning animals is still going on. I don't doubt that the practice is on the upswing. A recent news report told an outrageous tale. A woman, devastated at the loss of her seventeen-year-old pet cat, paid $50,000 to have a kitty cloned from the deceased's DNA. If that isn't the cat's meow!

From a January Utne Reader article, Anjula Razdan reports on "why our busy nation needs to chill out." Lack of free time, "Americans work more and vacation less than any other industrialized nation." "Technology," observes author Robert Kamm, "is forcing Americans to live at speed, not at depth."

We seem to desire to "have it all," a major reason why we have this compulsion to be ever busy. I think the trend to seek family togetherness, to escape cell phones, the Internet, e-mail, and being on-call, is making a huge comeback, primarily with Baby Boomers near retirement, who've finally realized that life is short and work overload is precious time wasted. Enough from the peanut gallery!

Solitude seeking, finding sanctuary in tiny, personalized enclosures, is becoming the any-age rage. Jon Spayde writes, in the Utne article "A Hut of One's Own," that "stripping the dwelling down to bare essentials" "...can open us to the entire world, by helping us clear away the physical and mental clutter of our lives."

Secluded land is becoming more expensive as demand accelerates. Individuals are actually constructing 10' X 10' abodes, with windows, "a womb with a view," in backyards, forests, and out of the way places, for about $1,500 worth of materials.

Gambling is rapidly becoming a rampant addiction, including the very young and the elderly. In a TV interview with a family, the parents praised gambling as exciting entertainment in their home (leading to another overindulgence?) Big stakes poker is one of television's most-watched shows. Casinos' profits far outweigh church dues.

In a nutshell, greed will overtake the business world. Where has job pride and devotion gone? On the other hand, when corporations downscale, they give no thought to the well being of, and dedication to the longtime employee.

Assisted living facilities (homes) are thriving, one of life's comforting achievements. Folks are fed up, however, with outlandish medications' costs. Medical providers may soon be forced to offer holistic remedies, more intense organic and nutritional advice, along with hands-on treatments to relieve pain. "Cure" will become the dominant objective.

American consumers are wallowing in la la land. In order to compete with other suppliers of conglomerate retailers, like Wal-Mart, U.S. manufacturers, such as Levi's and bicycle companies, have been forced to outsource their labor abroad, eliminating jobs in the American work force. Yet, no one seems to be addressing this consequential U.S. sacrifice of global prestige.

On occasion, each of us has to break through our isolation, and the comforts of private space. Injustice and prejudice are tough nuts to crack...there can never be too many nutcrackers. 


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