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It's a fascinating tradition to look at the top stories at year's end and 2018 provides an entire library. My favorites are the strange tales: a senior citizen launches himself into space to prove that the Earth is flat, squirrels stash 50 pounds of pine cones under car hood in Michigan, and a bear rings the doorbell at a Florida home. They're unconventional choices but I prefer them over the bleak and deeply divisive stories.

Bleak describes some of the most read stories of 2018. They feature death and destruction: hurricanes, school shootings, famous people's suicides, and politically inspired package bombs. No wonder I prefer to read about squirrels and bears. And I may opt for flat earth theories rather than our divisive politics. Any day of the week, we read about fights over land, energy, tariffs, the wall, taxes, technology, climate change, elections, immigrants, atomic bombs, and assassinations, not to mention name calling, scandals, and law suits.

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Deborah Levine

Anyone else dreaming of world peace in 2019? I asked colleagues for their predictions and got mixed responses.

From writer and educator William Visher comes a prediction about technology's impact. "Individuals and corporations will use robots, drones, driverless vehicles more often. We will come to rely on non-humans for companionship, commerce, and problem solving. More countries will experiment with social grading/credit scoring to control populations and monitor its citizens. As a result, social engineering will become more of a topic in the coming year"

David Grinberg, a strategic communications consultant, agrees and predicts "more worker displacement due to new and evolving technologies. Advancements in, and adoption of, automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning will result in more job losses in manufacturing, services, and other large industries. On the flip side, there will be a rise in retraining and educating workers for the high-tech jobs of the 21st century." Grinberg, formerly with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also predicts "an increased focus on diversity due to business and demographic shifts. We'll see more women and minority CEOs, C-suite executives and corporate board members and more workforce diversity training, including on cultural competency and respectful workplaces."

Mauricio Velasquez, President & CEO of The Diversity Training Group, adds this warning about bad actors emulating what they see in current events. "Certain parties 'feel emboldened by current events'. We're continuing to see emerging gender, race, sexual orientation, religious issues in the workplace and too many organizations wait until things get desperate. Too much reactivity and not enough proactivity!"

Writer and diversity leader Terry Howard also alerts us and underscores the need for advocacy. "Although I hope that I'm wrong, I see more acts of hate and violence by domestic terrorists. On the other side, I see more pushback on the part of fair-minded folks who are growing increasingly tired of these acts of hate and will fight back with counter protests and lawsuits aimed to bankrupt bigotry."

Anticipate and advocate, be alert and inclusive, train for the future, and repair the world. But don't forget to reflect inward. Heed the words of peace from The Rev. Msgr. T. Allen Al Humbrecht of Soddy Daisy's Holy Spirit Catholic Church. "All major religions have the injunction, expressed in one way or another, to 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' This sentiment can be agreed upon by all people of goodwill. I pray that as more people take seriously in their daily lives this simple injunction, we will begin to experience a more peaceful and sane world."

Let's live in hope.

Deborah Levine, an author and trainer/coach, is editor of the American Diversity Report. Contact her at deborah@diversityreport.com.

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