Can you guess the year?
* Scottish scientists cloned a sheep named Dolly * President Clinton signed a bill barring federal funds for human cloning * Bank robbers in Kevlar suits staged an epic gun battle with Los Angeles police * The English Patient wins Best Picture Oscar * Tony Blair becomes Prime Minister of England * Timothy McVeigh convicted of pure evil * Titanic bounced off the iceberg and hit the box office
The year was 1997. Monica Lewinsky still enjoyed relative obscurity. Dot coms had not yet bubbled.
How old were you? How old were your kids? What was your favorite song? How much money did you make that year, and what was your retirement account worth?
In 1997, did you think America would be teetering on the edge of another Great Depression in 2011?
The word “crisis” is overused. Everything isn’t a crisis. But there are crises. We’re in one right now.
You knew that. But you probably didn’t know how long it will last. Or that it’s happened before and will happen again, if we survive this one.
Read this brief passage from a very important book:
Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation, and empire.
Howe, Neil; Strauss, William (2009-01-16). The Fourth Turning (Kindle Locations 147-149). Three Rivers Press. Kindle Edition.
Howe and Strauss wrote those words in 1997—fourteen years ago. They aren’t soothsayers or tea-leaf readers; they’re historians. Their prediction from 1997 came not from looking at the conditions of day, but at the pattern of history since the Etruscans.
Even more sobering:
Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.
That means we have about 15 years of turmoil before we overcome the great, final obstacle to a “new normal.”
It’s easy, of course, to dismiss predictions as speculation. It’s comforting to believe that Howe and Strauss sensationalized history to scare people into buying their books.
But something about The Fourth Turning simply feels true today. Or, maybe, something about today makes the book feel true.
If these historians were right, then we have a long, hard row to hoe. We will need with us people we can trust.
We’ll also need a roadmap toward the better world, not a treasure map to a misremembered past.
St. Louis Tea Party Coalition is launching The After Party program to create this network of trust and to paint that roadmap toward the next iteration of our republic.
We’re inviting you to join us. Each month will involve a short meeting that will introduce an action to be completed before the next month’s meeting. Then we’ll have a long social hour. We hope that everyone will stay, have a dinner or appetizers, and talk about the future.
The action plans will be very simple. They will leave time for other civic or political actions. Those actions will be more effective as your network of trust grows larger and stronger.
We need to get to know each other better. We need to develop stronger bonds of trust than we’ve known in generations—since the 1930s and 1940s to be exact.
If you want to be fully prepared for the next 12 months and the next 15 years, read The Fourth Turning by Howe and Strauss.