After a Year of Tragedy, Hope for 2002

From the recession to Sept. 11, the year 2001 was a pretty rough one for America.

And as it draws to a close, it's only natural for people to look forward with hope to 2002. No more stock market slides, no more congressman-intern scandals. No more blood. No more terror.

"I want peace on earth," 25-year-old New Jersey account manager Jason said. "And I think it will be more positive."

That's the hope among most people who are gazing into the near future: Though the days have been dark lately, they believe there's sunshine just around the corner.

"I have a really good feeling about this year," Hicksville, N.Y., medium and psychic Maryann G. said. "Although what's happened was incredibly tragic, it's taken its place in bringing people together even more than before."

But it apparently doesn't take clairvoyance or a good relationship with the dead to come to the same conclusion. People from all over the country are convinced there are brighter times ahead.

"I think everything's going go get good," Charleston, S.C., homebuilder Mike Robbins, 48, said. "I feel positive about the future, and I think everyone else has a positive attitude too. I think we're all closer and thinking in the right direction."

But there's a definite difference between a feeling of general goodwill and specific goals for the next 12 months. Maryann Dubakowka, for one, hopes for two things: that Usama bin Laden will be captured and that the government will pay more attention to education.

"They have to put more power into education and not as much [into] television and imagery," the 34-year-old New York real estate agent said.

Arati Chaudhury, a 48-year-old telecommunications engineer from New Jersey, was more concerned about the economy.

"I hope the stock prices go up," she said. "I hope for more job security."

Professional predictors are split.

Noted trend master Faith Popcorn said 2002 will be a continuation of her famous "cocooning" trend, the need to feel safe. The near future's tendency toward "armored cocooning," as she phrases it, will see people buying filters for their water, safety testers for their meat and chicken, and an interest in spiritualism.

The quest for comfort means that the prevailing feeling could well be that of continued terror, no matter what the average person or gifted psychic thinks will happen. "Fear and uncertainty will play a big part," Popcorn said.

As for specifics, psychic Maryann G. said people like Dubakowka shouldn't necessarily hold her breath. Bin Laden isn't going to be caught, she said.

On the other hand, she said April would see a revived economy centered on manufactured goods in the "heartland" of America. And New York, devastated on Sept. 11 – her birthday – will be back "bigger and better," she said.

And there's one thing Popcorn, Maryann G. and most people on the street did seem to agree on about the coming days.

"We've discovered how much we care for each other," Popcorn said. "We're going to find things we've set aside for several years. And though it's a very insecure time, there may be a lot of beautiful things that come out of it."