Sometimes I Can Sense Future Events, but Only Dimly
March 16, 2008
I sometimes have a premonition that some event-usually bad-is going to happen before it happens.
This sensitivity to the future is not based on the “extrasensory power ” known in science fiction as precognition.
My awareness of the future is not based on the psychic power known to mystical nutcases as divination.
It is based a bit on intuition. It is based a bit on a lot of experience, usually with bad things happening.
It is not very precise. I gain no benefit from this non-power power.
For example, I once picked up the Portland Oregonian and read about a person on trial for murder. The accused was a former student of mine, Mindi Rahier. I did not know in advance that Mindi would turn out to be a murderess, but I was not surprised.
I had two thoughts as I read the story: Mindi always was a sociopath and Mindi always was a lazy, sloppy student who never did an assignment correctly.
I then had two more thoughts If I had been a better teacher, Mindi might have done a better job of getting her boyfriend to murder her husband and Maybe it was a good thing that I wasn’t that good a high school teacher.
Talking about the crime on the telephone with her boyfriend after the deed was just the kind of careless dumb blunder Mindi would do. As if it didn’t occur to her that the Portland police would get a warrant to tap her phone.
This is all true. I am not making any of this up. As David Rochester wrote recently, some stories would never work as fiction.
Mindi had been a student in an alternative school half-day program called Alternative Futures, based around futurology and environmentalism. We (the three teachers) tried to inspire our students to become activists and to make a positive difference in the world and to fulfill their potential. Some students who usually didn’t like high school thrived in our unconventional educational environment.
Some students didn’t thrive at all. Although the students had a lot of freedom, they also had to provide some internal self-discipline and an ability to structure their own lives and make reasonable choices.
Some were not suited for the freedom we offered. Mindi was one of the students who could only reach her potential with a lot of external structure around her. She did very poorly in Alternative Futures.
Mindi was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and sent to the Salem (Oregon) State Prison for women. (This is one reason I am using her real name, a departure from my usual policy of either making up false names or just using initials. I doubt Mindi is going to come looking for me with revenge in mind or is going to sue me for libel. I don’t know if she has access to a computer or gets to blog.)
There is a “rest of the story” footnote. A year or two after she was sentenced and started serving her term, I read one more newspaper story about Mindi. Many of the prisoners in the woman’s state prison were poor and illiterate. Mindi, the story said, was occupying herself in prison by teaching some of her fellow prisoners to read.
I had one last thought about the experience:
Maybe I hadn’t been such a bad teacher after all. Maybe I had inspired Mindi a bit. Mindi just needed a structured environment to fulfill her potential.