Was the 2020 Worldwide Coronavirus Outbreak Foretold? Who’s Predicting What Will Come Next? And Some Utopian Literature and Books that’ll Make You Feel Better
Okay, first, I don’t have much time for prophecies and portents of doom. I don’t think anyone benefits much by spreading that sort of potential hysteria. However, there’s not actually much of a difference between a “psychic” making a prediction and a writer speculating about an unusual future. It all adds up to the same thing. We look at the world as it is and imagine where we might go from here. It’s not a question of whether you believe in this or don’t believe in that – it’s a human exercise that will always yield interesting results.
Back before she died in 2013, author, television personality and self-professed psychic Sylvia Browne predicted in her book End of Days that in 2020 a “severe pneumonia-like illness” would spread across the world. She’s not the only one to have made such a prediction, of course, as any number of TED talks, viral theories and Dean Koontz can attest, but her date was specific. What’s more interesting, though, are some of the other future claims she made in the same book. Claims that include the end of the American presidency, implanted microchips that bypass mental illness, the rising of Atlantis from the ocean floor, widespread infertility, the end of all blindness and deafness, the creation of one huge interfaith global religion, the drowning of the world and the advent of domed cities that have massive doors for admitting aeroplanes… and many more, we’re not here to judge. Some of the claims sound absurd, some of them sound decidedly reasonable. All of them are food for thought.
If you fancy a bit more detail on these, you can find a concise and intriguing list here
But What About the Next of Days?
Now, while there is a definite grim satisfaction to be gained from large-scale sea-change prophecies – and it’s certainly easier to say something like “all the volcanoes will erupt and we’ll all live on floating islands of cooled magma while the seas continue to rise and the dragons come back” than something like “party politics will be disbanded and socialist strategies will blend with human-centric policies to reform society and collectively care for the most vulnerable among us,” it is the latter that really ought to be of more interest to us right now.
More than ever, isn’t it essential that we give some thought to the improvements and repairs that might be wrought in the aftermath of this crisis? And, really, you don’t need to be a dreamy child of flower-strewn singalongs to spot some of the positives that are already surfacing. Yes, the information out there is mostly telling a worrying story, but that can’t be all there is, and yes, for every happy outcome that you manage to consider, there will be a convincing counterpoint, there will be research and facts to shoot you down.
Then again, have we not seen a new kind of kindness emerging already? From small gestures, like showing neighbourly solidarity through music and applause, to larger gestures, like individual efforts to provide for those who cannot access what they need; from businesses giving away free food, entertainment and services, to larger organisations overhauling their operations to keep people going, we have seen noble responses and virtues that have not been hitherto well showcased. We’re seeing improved air quality as well, whether or not that will be sustainable. We’re seeing some governments abandon years of angry bickering in order to consider and protect everyone regardless of political affiliation. We’re seeing people follow confusing and restrictive guidance not out of fear for themselves but in order to slow the spread and protect those most vulnerable. We’re seeing the mad scramble to satiate the markets and grasp at profits exposed and temporarily de-prioritised.
Nobody’s saying ignore all the evidence of oncoming struggle, nobody’s saying don’t worry be happy (though feel free to whistle along, of course), but these are the sorts of predictions it would be nice to see; not end of days but new days of caring and profound humanity. It may be wishful thinking and it may be a desperate dream but it’s certainly no sillier than massive domed cities with remote-controlled sliding air travel doors or, you know, a risen ancient metropolis.
If you’ve had a look, you’ll likely have found that such books don’t seem nearly as forthcoming as the myriad impending doom! titles from which there are to choose. So maybe let’s make predictions of a less fatal nature. Even as we make the appropriate preparations and sacrifices as a people, even as we try to make sense of the economic, pragmatic and medical consequences of this situation, surely we could allow ourselves to indulge in a little utopian speculation.
To brighten things up here’s a list of the most Utopian books out there:
And here’s a list of books that’ll cheer you up through human decency and the triumphant spirit:
Be wonderful to yourselves and each other. Stay safe, stay positive, stay busy.