by Andy Kozlov @KozlovAndy
From Martin Meredith’s The State of Africa:
The army coup of 1966, sweeping away a corrupt and discredited regime, was greeted in the South [of Nigeria] by scenes of wild rejoicing. The coup leaders were acclaimed heroes; the politicians slunk out of sight …
By strange coincidence, a prophetic novel by.. Chinua Achebe was published in the same week as the coup, telling the story of the rise and fall of an African politician ending with an army takeover. ‘Overnight everyone began to shake their heads at the excess of the last regime, at its graft, oppression and corrupt government,’ wrote Achebe in A Man of the People. ‘Newspapaers, the radio, hitherto silent intellectuals and civil servants — everybody said what a terrible lot; and it became public opinion the next morning.’
Thirteen years later The China Syndrome — a film that describes a fictional worst-case result of a nuclear meltdow — was released 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. No wonder that for anyone who was around in 1979 the movie was a major event and sparked a lot of debate.
Before the film, Americans were 60/40 in favor of nuclear power plants; after the movie, the poll reversed. If not for the film and the fact that it was backed up in real life, Americans would today have 1,000 nuclear reactors in the US instead of 100.
Back in summer 2013, I happened across an Estonian screening of a prophecy-laden piece of content myself. I was struck by the premise and actuality of the events recounted in Searching for Sugar Man, a documentary about Sixto Rodriguez, a performer and songwriter, whose two 1970’s albums went bust in the US, only to have them find new life as part of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
Rodriguez had given up on his singing career and was a manual laborer in Detroit. For most of his life, he hadn’t made a dime off his South African success. Most of South Africans had thought he was dead, having killed himself.
Sitting inside Estonia’s oldest cinema Kino Sõprus as I was watching the highly spiritual events unfold on the screen, I couldn’t help wondering why would the ‘unsung’ American singer settle on Estonia in the song that ‘prophesized’ his unemployment? Was there a hidden message for me watching this documentary about him, on my first trip to the Baltic country?
Cause I lost my job two weeks before Christmas
And I talked to Jesus at the sewer
And the Pope said it was none of his God-damned business
While the rain drank champagne
My Estonian Archangel came and got me wasted
Cause the sweetest kiss I ever got is the one I’ve never tasted
Oh but they’ll take their bonus pay to Molly McDonald,
Neon ladies, beauty is that which obeys, is bought or borrowed
Apparently, no matter whether you are a Nigerian, an American in South Africa or an Ukrainian in Estonia, behaviors can be changed much more effectively if the story we convey precedes reality in a sometimes shockingly and always strikingly convincing way. So how do you author the next prophetic piece of content?
No need to dust off your granny’s crystal ball.
A lot of it is about knowing your subject very well, knowing the possibilities and considering the unkown unkowns well before the rest of us read about them materialize in the news headlines.
Were The China Syndrome scriptwriters the clairvoyants of their time? Certainly there were lots of people who entertained the thought back then.
In reality, “the basis for the film came from a number of nuclear plant incidents and in particular the Brown’s Ferry Alabama Nuclear Power Plant Fire which occurred four years earlier in 1975.” The screenwriters just knew their subject well. They proved to be extremely good at spotting a shocking possibility rooted in the down-to-nuclear-reactor-safety-valve reality.
If you want to be communicating your message of goodwill in a strikingly convincing manner be on the lookout for current and upcoming changes before others do. Beef up this knowledge and perceptions with expertise that is still not common today or shared by others. They will follow you for your original discernment and curatorial picks!
And remember: the best way to predict the future is to shape it.
One 2015 tip-off to wrap it up:
On September 10 this year, if God continues to save the Queen, Elizabeth will overtake her great-great grandmother Victoria and, after 63 years and 217 days, become UK’s longest-reigning monarch
The author can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org