This morning I was pondering a thought I first had when I was in high school in the mid-70's. It seems to me that every generation has some sort of hardship or trial that affects the whole community. I don’t know history very well but just in the US I see that there was WWII (1941-1945), the great depression (1929-1930's), the civil war (1861-1865), and the revolutionary war (1775-1783). Other countries have similar events such as unjust governments, civil wars, famine, etc. I’m not that knowledgeable on the histories of other countries to put a timeline together but I’d guess a similar string of events has happen for most country/regions around the globe. These events have greatly disrupted people's lives and plans for their future plans.
There may be many reasons why these events happen. I could talk about God’s character and why He allows these to take place but that’s beyond the scope of this web site. From a historic perspective we may not know why they happen but we do know that they do happen. Since none of these great events have occurred in my lifetime, I’ve been raised with the mindset that life will go smoothly if I plan for the future and live a good life. Of course, this all assumes that the world is stable and nothing major will disrupt our lives. Now that I see hard times ahead, I need to change my thinking. It’s hard for me to lose a lot of my life savings due to government mismanagement and corruption. I think “Hey, I worked hard for that money. It’s mine.” Or, “Why should my kids have to suffer with college loans and no high paying jobs in the future?” But, as I think of history I realize that the situation today is not much different than that for other people throughout history. Why should we be any different? Building one’s family, growing a retirement nest egg and being able to keep them safe from the future is not normal as I’ve been lead to believe all my life.
As I ponder my retirement years and the fate of my sons who are about to start their life’s adventure away from home, it’s an encouragement to know that what I’ve been taught about working hard to have a secure future is not what has happened throughout history. I haven’t failed in life because my future doesn’t go as planned. I’m in good company of those of earlier generations who lost their wealth (great or small) or had wars that disrupted their lives and families. I’m now in the process of re-learning what life should look like and un-doing the wrong thinking I’ve been taught throughout my life. Actually, I’m looking forward to the next few years because it our generation’s opportunity to shine during our time of trial.
This reminds me so much of the work of historians William Strauss and Neil Howe and their book "The Fourth Turning." They analyzed the sweep of civilizations and concluded the same thing... that Great Crises happen about once every generation.
As you said, none of the great events (or Crises) have occurred during your lifetime. The same could be said for almost all of us. In fact, the GI generation, who were active, adult participants in the last Great Crises, are fading quickly from society. First hand perspective, experience and wisdom is fading with them.
According to Stauss and Howe's analysis, our society has entered the next Great Crises, the type that makes or breaks countries and empires. I must say that I am impressed with how well the Chris M's work ties together so many of systematic stresses propelling our society towards a breaking point. Reading "The Fourth Turning" made me realize that: 1) we are not alone in history, many other generations have faced similar challenges of similar magnitude; and 2) great history making changes are upon us. The future will indeed be very different from the past.
Strauss and Howe are good references, also check the work of Martin Armstrong for someone who has some very deep historical knowledge, often with a contrarian twist on his point of view, and who claims to have broken a code of cycles, micro/macro/intermediate and everything in between. Fascinating writing if at times a little granular, and his timing schemes have apparently been quite accurate at times in predicting major moments in politics or the markets.
Much of his recent writings are archived there. He's actually writing from jail (skim through the writings, you can piece together the story - great real life conspiracy theory made-for-movies-if-it-weren't-so-real kind of story).
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