It's hard to come up with a 2012 prediction that is going to top the supposed Mayan end-of-world forecast. Not since the advent of Y2K has there been so much excitement about gloom and doom. Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping got some traction last year with his May 21 judgment day prediction, that of course came and went. The Maya no doubt were better with numbers than poor Harold and apocalyptic attention has turned to December of this year as a possible end times.
Even if the the Maya are right, this still leaves me with nearly a full year of predictability. I like making predictions a year in advance, since people tend to forget the “misses” and you can remind them of the ones you get right. Since there are far too many dire trends that we face, I'll leave that to others and prognosticate the positive.
Ironically, many of the positive trends I see have “bad news” as a catalyst. For instance, people in this country will become less materialistic in large part because they will have less material to worry about. While I love my “stuff” as much as the next person, there is a point of diminishing returns. 2012 will signal the burst of the “consumerism” bubble. Personal debt will be viewed by greater amounts of people as a poor tradeoff for acquiring more things. Keeping up with the Joneses who have just had their car repo-ed and their house foreclosed will lose its appeal.
A newfound frugality ethic will foster greater conservationism. While it is well and good to recycle trash, it’s far better not to create it in the first place. Extending the life of your vehicle a couple of extra years represents a heckuva lot of crushed aluminum cans. 2012 will be the year of the thrift store – the original recycling program.
I am hopeful for healthier lifestyles. With 50 million Americans without health insurance, many simply can’t afford to be sick. Even with a Warren Buffett-sized bank account – fitness is priceless. People will gain by losing more weight. Food isn’t cheap and neither is replacing undersized clothing. Getting into shape creates more options such as using one’s feet as a mode of transportation.
With increasing gasoline prices, in-town living will have a greater financial benefit with foot power augmenting fossil fuels. A local prediction is a revitalization of our downtown – in part as a result of folks moving closer to town which in turn creates incentives for downtown property owners to convert portions of existing buildings into apartments. Revitalization is not only economic development, it is a renaissance of community spirit with affinity and identification with our neighbors.
While Macon County reflects many cultures, our Scottish heritage is the most intertwined with the land and the people, serving as an important “identifier.” Keeping with the theme of this article, the Scots, as cheap as they are, are in a great position for 2012. Our Scottish Tartan Museum will become a focal point for the community and will identify us and set us apart from the other equally beautiful areas of this part of the country.
2012 will mark the end of the world as we know it. Then again, the passing of every year changes the world and our lives forever. Mayan prophecies may be etched in stone but its meanings are flavored by our imaginations. The future may not be ours to predict, but to affect. Happy 2012!