In 1995, 39-year-old Greg Wilkinson wrote a letter for the future and enclosed it in a time capsule. More than 22 years later, a trade worker in Australia uncovered the capsule, revealing an eery prediction about Islam, along with predictions about social trends and China as well. The prediction about Islam really stood out, however.
“Islam will become the next ideological problem sparking an equal and opposite reaction plunging large parts of the globe into a ridiculous ‘holy war,'” Wilkinson predicted. This is an astounding prediction in 1995, a full six years before the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
But the current struggle with radical Islamic terrorism — which has plagued Europe and Southeast Asia the most but seems to have infected nearly every country on Earth — has dwarfed even Wilkinson’s imagination.
Interestingly, the man suggested that this “ridiculous ‘holy war'” would largely be a civil war within Islam, rather than a clash of civilizations. “Each side believing they are more religious/ righteous than the other,” he predicted, “factions within either doctrine will also suffer this holier than thou attitude and this war will go on for a very long time until one side wins (impossible) or both sides realise that if this is what their god wants, then there probably isn’t one after all.”
As with the suggestion of a nearly global “holy war,” Wilkinson tiptoed very close to the mark in this prediction. There are skirmishes within Islam — many terrorist groups loathe one another, even while notorious organizations like Boko Haram and the Islamic State (ISIS) work in tandem — and it does indeed seem that ultimate victory is impossible.
Indeed, following the defeat of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, other terrorist groups seemed to grow up like weeds.
It remains to be seen whether Muslims will “realise that if this is what their god wants, then there probably isn’t one after all.” This arguably was Wilkinson’s least accurate prediction, as religion remains a dominant force in the world.
The man’s other predictions were less accurate, but still have a ring of truth about them.
His social prediction: “Families will go back to one parent working and the other looking after the kids.” This has been partially fulfilled, with a trend among millennials embracing a traditional breadwinner-homemaker model. “This will bring about a natural controlled recession, a less materialistic society with more social interaction in city suburbs,” Wilkinson concluded. Here, he struck out.
“China will semi democratise, gear up as a world economic super power and then look out!” Wilkinson added. True.
Then he suggested something rather out there. “America will be their largest trading partner and if they decide they would like some more space, I suspect Australia could become their target.” Wilkinson urged Australians to “learn their language and culture, and increase Chinese immigration so that whatever happens it will be peaceful. We would not win a war against them.”
While Australia would not win a war against China, it seems laughable to suggest that China would invade Australia for land. However, China has been rather aggressive in the South China Sea over trade routes and seems land hungry in East Asia. Wilkinson was wrong about where China would expand to, but right that the Chinese would seek expansion.
In the letter, Wilkinson did not specify exactly when these predictions would come true. “I do these with no particular time span in mind, … Ros [his wife Roslyn] reckons you will be reading this in the year 2020. I built the wall, and I reckon closer to 2060,” he wrote.
The letter was penned on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1995. Sasha Ilic, a tradesman working on a kitchen renovation, discovered it this month.
“I was sent to the house in Rozelle for a kitchen renovation, which later also added to a full bathroom renovation because of Greg’s lack of water proofing,” Ilic told The Sydney Morning Herald. “The wall lining came off and a labourer found the letter hidden inside the bathroom stud wall. He read it and passed it around.”
“When I saw the letter and read it, I thought it was pretty cool — I’ve only ever come across old newspapers hidden in walls,” the worker added. “I wasn’t sure it was real until I saw the photo,” a picture of Wilkinson and his wife at their wedding in 1995.
Ilic posted the letter on Facebook and reached out to Wilkinson with a friend request. “At first when I saw the letter up on Facebook I felt a little violated,” Wilkinson told the Herald. “Then having through about it and with the predictions it really highlighted the progress of the internet in 22 years and, without it, how would they ever have found me?”
“My beautiful Ros almost picked the time it would be revealed,” the 61-year-old wistfully said. The couple bought the house in 1987 for $170,000 while Wilkinson was building his own company. The pair had a baby boy named Mark in August 1995, but two years later Roslyn died from breast cancer.
“I feel quite emotional having seen it,” Wilkinson said. “All that water under the bridge for me and the world. My beautiful Ros looking back at me from the past.”
The property was sold 18 months ago for $1,380,000. Wilkinson and his family moved to a property in the neighboring suburb of Balmain.