Winning Words on a New Millennium

Staffer's Hoffer Essay Offers Mega-Resolutions for the Year 2000

One of four winners of this year's Eric Hoffer Essay Contest is Katy Grether, quality assurance manager in the Office of Financial Aid. Grether's essay on the contest topic "Hello, 2000!" follows.

The year 2000, a new century, a new millennium.

Time for a mega-set of New Year's resolutions.

Talk about performance anxiety.

I've tried my darnedest not to confront myself on New Year's eve, but this, this is too fraught to face for more than seconds at a time.

And good old denial doesn't even help. It's like sweeping ants under the rug--they pop out again--next time as global performance anxiety, then ecological performance anxiety.

Ponder this: the millennium threshold has only been crossed once since the death of Jesus Christ. Heavy. To think that 33 generations will come and go before men and women will cross this threshold again. Or, a nagging thought, will man, or woman, ever cross it again?

I remember when Ecology was a fledgling field, not quite legitimate in the eyes of most. Now, in the back of our minds, we fear it might be the only hope for a used-up planet.

I have a gnawing vision that won't leave me alone: a time-lapse photograph of the world populated, then crowded, then teeming, then overrun with wall-to-wall members of our species, no room left to grow food, oceans sucked dry of fish.

This definitely doesn't sound like millennium envy.

Given the mounting baggage, I am going to make my resolutions three years early before they sink under their own weightiness. Actually, I've given up on resolutions; this is my wish list for the new century:

1. I would like Jesus Christ to "revisit" the world. (Revisit that, you 90's jargon jocks!) I would like to meet him in the flesh and hear him tell a story. But, would we tune him out with our Walkmen, VCRs, CDs and computers? Could we stop whatever it is that we do at breakneck speed to listen? Would He make any difference in the way we act?

2. I would like something cataclysmic to happen to slow us down and bring us outdoors. So we could savor all of the interchanges of the day, and each other; and we would be forced to feel the rhythm of the earth in our bodies. Now that I think about it, all we Americans have to do is visit a "less advanced" country in the world to have this experience, so I'll change my wish to do lots of traveling in the new millennium.

3. That we padlock all shopping malls, especially Great Malls, and any store that has flatbed shopping carts.

4. Burn our TVs but save the VCRs for reruns of Frasier and Seinfeld .

5. Take lots of long journeys on the train.

6. Outlaw more than two brands to choose from.

7. Corollary to Number 6: Forgive, once and for all, those earnest writers who end their sentences with dangling prepositions.

8. Educate ourselves and our children.

9. Meet an alien. (This could be the same as Number 1, or render it totally irrelevant.)

10. Abolish the word "they" in every language.

--Katy Grether


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