Back to the Future?


A year ago, today was the future.

A century ago, today was the far future. Even farther back, today was science fiction, if there even was such a thing as science fiction that far back.

So, aside from nostalgia, why do we spend so much time looking back and trying to predict the future? I’m pretty sure you and I can’t even predict tomorrow – or even five minutes from now – with 100% accuracy. Trying to do that has a name: Fortune telling.

Just think about how rich you and I could be. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as a matter of fact, requires asset management companies to tell you “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Thinking otherwise has another name: Gambling.

Yet, not all predictions based on history are fortune telling and gambling.

I can be pretty sure it’s a safe bet that when I turn the key in my car, the motor will start, and when I mix just the right ingredients for Grandma’s sweet and gooey pecan rum bars or her magical Swedish meatballs, it will all come out right and tasty.

What’s the difference between gambling and a sure thing? It’s the right system, one that always works. It’s the right recipe, not a guess, or a hunch, or a wish.

And that’s why this week’s Jamestown Gazette invites you to enjoy both this year’s Celtic festival and this month’s annual, Back to School ritual. They both have a lot in common: Proven systems with a high rate of success.

Consider the Celtic heritage in the United States, for example. Who were those people? Celtic history tells us about thousand-year-long traditions of bold warriors along with poets to record their epic victories, resourceful farmers along with artists to add beauty to their pastoral lives, and brave travelers in search of new lands, more opportunities, and good, strong homes.

The descendants of those people are the ones who brought those traditions to America – proven, successful, and strong ways of living – ways of life that worked. Predicting a good future for them was not a gamble. It was as sure as Grandma’s recipes and my car keys.

So please accept Stephanie McCraw’s invitation this week to attend Chautauqua County’s annual Celtic Festival. It will be fun, beautiful, and as delicious as it always is, but look with new eyes, too. See the brave, strong, and artful history behind it all.

Looking back that way will show you a future we can all be sure of. A history of such strength, bravery, and resourcefulness means it’s not really gambling to bet on their future.

See what I mean? Back to school is back to a good future, too.

For all its challenges, our school systems have produced life-changing and world-changing science, medicine, technology, art, and music – brave young scholars, athletes, and artists – to create a standard of living the world has never-before seen.

It is another system as reliable as Grandma’s recipes and the one-billion cars and their keys that that we don’t have to “guess” will work again tomorrow.

This week, please join your Jamestown Gazette on the way to futures that our past can quite safely predict.

And, of course, enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.