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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/13/09


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Message Jim Quinn

Thus might the next Fourth Turning end in apocalypse or glory. The nation could be ruined, its democracy destroyed, and millions of people scattered or killed. Or America could enter a new golden age, triumphantly applying shared values to improve the human condition. The rhythms of history do not reveal the outcome of the coming Crisis; all they suggest is the timing and dimension.

Strauss & Howe The Fourth Turning

Winter is coming. Are you prepared? Americans see time as their enemy. Most Americans have bought into a view of the past and future as linear. When you observe the world in linear way and things are going well, the population is happy and confident. If you view the world in a linear way and things are going badly, the population sees nothing but terrible times ahead. This linear outlook of history and the future is not rational or supported by facts. I'm convinced that world history is not on a linear path towards Armageddon and the Rapture. This belief is preached by many of the mainstream religions, but the truth is that we've seen this movie before and it doesn't end in the 2nd Coming of Christ. The American belief in a destiny of never ending progress will undergo its 3rd major crisis period since its founding. The resolution of this crisis is 10 to 20 years in the future. The outcome will remain in doubt until the definitive resolution.

Our everyday lives clearly support a cyclical view of the world. There are 24 hours in day progressing from light to darkness and back again. There are 365 days in a year progressing from Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter, and then starting the cycle over again. A month is dictated by the four phases of the Moon. Our oceans rise and fall in a predictable pattern of high tides and low tides based on lunar phases. Even Christian religions that preach a linear view of the world, celebrate their beliefs in a predictable annual cycle encompassing the life of Christ from is birth, life, death and resurrection. The human life cycle extends 80 to 100 years going through the stages of childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and elderhood. This cycle has not changed over the whole history of earth. A long human life approximates a century of time. The rhythm of time has a regularity and cadence that is predictable on a generational level. The elites, most academics, religious zealots and social engineers scoff at the idea of predictable cycles of history. It throws a monkey wrench into their deceptive self aggrandizing agendas.

Generational Theory

We perceive our civic challenge as some vast, insoluble Rubik's Cube. Behind each problem lies yet another, and another, ad infinitum. To fix crime we have to fix the family, but before we do that we have to fix welfare, and that means fixing our budget, and that means fixing our civic spirit, but we can't do that without fixing moral standards, and that means fixing schools and churches, and that means fixing the inner cities, and that's impossible unless we fix crime. There's no fulcrum on which to rest a policy lever. People of all ages sense that something huge will have to sweep across America before the gloom can be lifted but that's an awareness we suppress. As a nation, we're in deep denial.

Strauss & Howe The Fourth Turning

Anyone who is being honest recognizes the country is on a path towards a major calamity. We have been living beyond our means for decades and the fiscal mismanagement of the country will come to a dramatic climax in the next decade. What many deny is that this crisis was pre-ordained based upon a predictable timeline of generational forces repeating over and over again throughout history. The elites are continuously stunned that every 20 to 25 years a fresh mood engulfs the country and new generations act differently than the generations who proceeded them. The privileged are astounded because they don't want to accept the fact that progress is not linear and that society will undergo highs and lows over the course of a century.

Strauss and Howe have been able to trace consistent 80 to 100 year generational patterns throughout modern history. The 20 to 25 year quartiles are a High (1st Turning), an Awakening (2nd Turning), an Unraveling (3rd Turning), and a Crisis (4th Turning). They have also identified four archetypes that occupy their necessary position within the 80 to 100 year cycle. These archetypes are Prophets, Nomads, Heroes, and Artists. History forms the generations as the generations create history in a repetitive dance throughout the ages. The archetypes always follow the same path. As an example, the Prophet archetype is always born during a High, comes of age during an Awakening, enters midlife during an Unraveling, and spends their elderhood during a Crisis.

Below are charts detailing the archetypes and the 12 Turnings since the founding of the American Republic. There is a remarkable consistency of timing and scope regarding the previous Turnings in our history.





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James Quinn is a senior director of strategic planning for a major university. James has held financial positions with a retailer, homebuilder and university in his 22-year career. Those positions included treasurer, controller, and head of (more...)
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