As a writer of fantasy, I consider prescience an interesting word – ‘the fact of knowing something in advance; foreknowledge.’ I’ve met people who are prescient. I’ve read prescient articles on what the future may hold which has come to pass.
One of the most prescient I’ve watched recently is on Youtube: shorturl.at/jHLM1 All of it is well worth watching, especially about 15 minutes in for roughly seven minutes or so.
It’s the 125th Stanford Commencement address to the graduating class on 12 June, 2016 by Ken Burn, the documentary film maker. This was around the time when the current tenant in the White House was about to become the Republican nominee. By the way, Burn doesn’t mention the individual’s name once. After talking about the role of government and those who aspire to office, he says:
‘… asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.’
With his knowledge of history, Burn has seen this type of figure arise many times and in many places throughout history. He warned that the reality TV star presents:
‘… an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothingism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African-Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic sabre-rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong. These are all virulent strains that have at times infected us in the past. But they now loom in front of us again – all happening at once. We know from our history books that these are the diseases of ancient and now fallen empires. The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral Internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.’
Ken Burn warned the students what was going to happen, many applauded. Others sat there glum of face, some glowering, disbelieving. I wonder how they feel now? How do you feel now?
Interesting word, prescience, isn’t it?
Especially when it becomes a reality.
‘No one left behind ’
J J Mitchell