Editorial - Prophecies and predictions

Dianne St. Jean

It’s that time of year again! With the advent of each new year, prophecies and predictions begin creeping out of the woodwork.

Check out websites and you’ll find prophecies from religious leaders to predictions from Joe Public; and magazines, newspapers and television are not exempt from the lure to place their own bets on future events.

Speaking of bets, perhaps not so well known in our neck of the woods, it is common for people in other places of the world to place actual bets on predictions. When I lived in London, England the practice of popping down to the corner bookies and betting on almost everything seemed odd to me at first, simply because I had never seen people put their money where their mouth is before to that extent.

Of course, political figures and the rich and famous tend to dominate the obsession of predictions. Just last week one of the main Canadian television stations hosted thoughts from a ‘psychic’ who just couldn’t seem to pin down any specifics from the Universe about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s future.

I’m not knocking the idea of making predictions; after all, most of it is all in fun. There’s an element I think in all of us to want to know the future, and it’s exciting to see whether or not our own ideas of future events will come to fruition.

But if the past year or so has taught us anything about prophecies and predictions, it’s that the impossible or unlikely can possibly and likely happen: Donald Trump sworn in as President of the United States, Prince Harry marrying a ‘commoner’ (the term used in the UK) for love, and it no longer being a scandal.

Putting aside the personal lives of people, who could have predicted the extent of the wild fires and massive storms not only here but across the globe? Although our scientists have top-grade equipment that can measure and predict to a point the formation of conditions that might lead to a weather event, more often than not their destructive strength catches us by surprise when they do happen.

What 2017 showed us is that, whether we use scientific evidence or social patterns, we can make predictions about weather, or elections, or love affairs, or an economic crash all we want, but most of the time the ‘predictable’ doesn’t happen.

Whether or not we want to admit it, most of humanity is expecting some sort of apocalypse to be on the horizon, and I will bet (here I go with a prediction!) that most people think it will be North Korea, or the United States or Russia that will start it. Hmm – that seems like the logical assumption. But I wonder, what if something we never dreamed of from a place we didn’t expect side-swipes us? Better yet – how about if it doesn’t happen in the near future at all as many are expecting it to?

Perhaps we should leave prophecies and predictions where they actually belong – not in the future, but in the past.

What I mean by that is, let’s enjoy the challenge of trying to foretell future events, but let’s also look back and see whether or not those predictions or prophecies actually came to pass.

Better yet, let’s focus on the present.