Predict Us Out of This Mess!

(Q) Did you or anyone you know predict or see the pandemic coming? I don’t think my life would have unfolded differently if I had known about it ahead of time, but I would like to believe that early warnings are possible, especially prior to life-changing events of this magnitude.


(A) It's an easy NO for me. I did not see it coming, at least not in the global way that has unfolded and upended almost everyone’s life. I do know of a few people who accurately described a scenario like the one that is still unfolding. By and large, they do not wish to be named or credited with the burden of seeing, what to them, was unmistakably obvious. They are not gifted psychics or even known for making specific predictions. But when they speak, I listen.


I also know of a people who do claim credit for having predicted the pandemic. I have viewed, read, and listened to them on a few occasions. I like them. I believe in them and their good work, but I’m not sure I would credit them with this – and I’m not sure how I feel about claiming the spotlight for this, as if it were a prize – however, in this highly subjective field I will admit that it is affirming to be recognized for being in service.


The closest actual prediction I came across is a passage in Sylvia Browne’s 2008 book, End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World. A passage in the book reads,“In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes, and resisting all known treatments . . . Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it has arrived, attack again 10 years later, and then disappear completely.” I would give this one to her, how about you? (Sylvia Browne had an interesting and controversial career. She transitioned in 2013).

Generally speaking, we are interested in predictions and prophecies, but not sure how we feel about those making them. Why is that? Just to round out this discussion, I want to insert the difference between a prediction and a prophecy: A prediction is a forecast or estimate of a future event based on logic, reason, mystical knowledge, or other power. A prophecy has an additional requirement, it must be made under divine direction or inspiration. In other words, prophecies are authoritative revelations. Simply put, we have less trust in the divine than we once did. Today, we prefer to be guided by science-backed theories and practices. For instance, we are much more interested in what science tells us about climate crisis than what a prophet might say. I would argue that there is good reason to trust or mistrust both, but that is another conversation.


So why didn’t other talented individuals come forward with vital information? Some did, within their own communities of followers. Many did not. To be perfectly honest, we are in new, completely unprecedented times with unique challenges ahead. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, much less the first one out of the gate. In fact, most of the trusted people I once followed have retired or prefer to work in the background now.

Looking back, it was not difficult to imagine or forecast a viral outbreak. Sci-fi movies are no longer sci-fi. Post-apocalyptic scenarios are no longer the product of an overactive imagination. The difficult part was envisioning a worldwide pandemic that included a halting economy, fear driven mandates, daily deaths in the thousands, and everything else we have lived through. The aftermath is turning out to be more than a clean-up operation, so we are not out of the woods yet (more on this another time). What I am saying is, the cause, or lead-in to a prediction is easier to spell out than its long-term effects. A prediction cannot stand outside of the reality being described; they are inseparable. The person making the prediction becomes part of its evolution, as well as its observer.


Now, here is a question for you to consider: If an outspoken prophet had publicly given you advanced knowledge of everything you have experienced over the last year, would you have believed them? Maybe, but more than likely not. Why? For the simple reason that we do not want to believe in worst-case scenarios. Human beings are eternally optimistic, or at least we try to be. We are also procrastinators who are prone to not believing something until it is (almost) too late. We are proving that to ourselves again with climate change. I don’t see many people giving up their oceanfront property in favor of a mountain-top home. Yet. This reminds me of Cassandra, the prophetess of Greek mythology who was doomed to issue unheeded warnings.

So, do we still want and need visionaries to offer predictions? I think so, yes. Well-intended predictions help us prepare for a future most of us cannot yet envision. They help ease our fixation with ruminating about past mistakes and future potentials. They help us to make present moment, creative decisions. A well interpreted prediction (another skill) can help us avoid potential problems and discomforts. For this system to work as it was designed, it requires an inner and outer sensorial match – intuition and instinct must work together, as must the heart and mind, and our neurobiology. In short, we need to trust in what we believe, and believe in what we trust.


One last thing. What about conspiracy predictions? This pandemic has spawned more conspiracy theories than any other subject ever. Hands down. I am not downplaying their importance; they are relatable and notable. Conspiracies are not my best subject. Certainly, there are agendas being played out, conspiratorial players and entities, and secrets that are as deep as an abyss. It’s not my best subject simply because I’m busy elsewhere – I’m interested in our future potential as evolving humans and our depleted environment. Conspiracy theories help us explain complicated events where the truth is unknown or too troubling. They give us a feeling of control over what might otherwise seem frighteningly random. Hidden or secretive explanations are better than no explanation. Delving into conspiracies empowers us. If we can learn from what has happened, we may be able to prevent it from happening again.

We, citizens of the world, are not prepared for the future. We are still trying to wrap our collective heads around the last two years. Even so, we must understand that whatever the future holds, already exists. Future threats, environmental or otherwise, are already circulating around us. As a friend recently said, “the disturbance in the environment is us.” Solutions to our current situations also lie within us.

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