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Here's hoping for a kinder 2009
By Lee Litas | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/6/2009 12:01 AM

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One of the most celebrated and respected spiritual and political leaders of the 1900s, Mahatma Ghandi, once said: "Be the change that you want to see in the world."

Of course, that sentiment, in its various incarnations, is not reserved solely for the political arena, as the latter part of last year made it seem. Rather, this universal theme can and is being adapted the world over by young and old, businesses and individuals - all of us, in fact, who would like to start fresh with this new year.

'Oh-eight' is over and I have been hard-pressed to find a tremendous amount of people who were sorry to see it go. Some people were downright superstitious about the reasons last year seemed so difficult.

"It was a leap year," said Lyubov Byelotserkovskaya of Deerfield. Those of Eastern European descent believe leap years to bring more hardship than regular years. When asked why, Byelotserkovskaya couldn't come up with any concrete facts. "It is just always believed that leap years will be more difficult."

In countries like Greece, it is believed if a couple is married on any day of a leap year, their marriage is cursed.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could blame all the upheavals of 2008 on just that one thing? However, if one is to believe in superstition, then the study of numerology is not that far off.

So it warrants mention that doing battle with the negative effects of last year's leap was one incredibly lucky date: August 8, 2008. Effectively this represented three eights (08/08/08), one of the luckiest days according to Asian cultures and one that can come around only once every 100 years.

In the Chinese language, the number eight is the luckiest of numbers. The word itself sounds similar to other words like 'affluence' and 'fortune,' giving it special significance. For this reason, the Summer Olympics in Beijing opened on 08/08/08 at precisely 8:08:08 p.m.

How much of a counterbalance that date was to the leap year is a matter of opinion. According to New York Daily News astrologer, Jennifer Angel, on a numerological level, the number eight represents the evolution of life with the two 'perfect circles together' symbolizing the lessons to pass before complete enlightenment.

If so, school has been tough this year.

Hey, no one said change was going to be easy. To be the change that we want to see, as Ghandi suggests, will clearly take a lot of work. Just ask President-elect Barack Obama. Poor guy has to save the country and the planet all in one fell swoop, preferably right as he takes his oath, 'cause we are in a hurry.'

All kidding aside, one Lake County resident was rather optimistic about change.

"I believe that with the economic downturn, we will see the creative side and the industriousness come out in all of us. People become more creative and not just with money," said Michael Parker.

Clearly, '08 seemed to give us little reprieve from constant turmoil - whether it was political, financial or international. And, it required full participation, allowing a very few to sit on the sidelines.

As eighteenth century poet, Alexander Pope, once said, hope springs eternal. Let's welcome '09 and hope it is kinder to all of us.