A lot of virtual ink has been spilled in the past couple of years trying to home in on the source of our discontent. In the past half century or so we’ve experienced quite a few disruptions to the system, exposing deep rifts that were plastered over more than a few times in the past. America is nothing if not the land of skeletons in closets and the more that people are told what they may or may not consider by their betters, the more threadbare the excuses become. Everything has a reckoning, it is the immutable force of creation that established the physics of all things. Every action and all that jazz.
We are in the midst of a very, very dangerous time. Anyone who still believes in the power of the vote to reconcile our differences has not been paying attention. The time for campaigning things away has come and gone and there will never- until this conflict settles matters in flesh and blood- be a coming together of one side with the other. It is purposeless at this point to reason with one another, sides have been clearly drawn and like a family dispute, everyone knows where everyone else stands on the matter.
The premise is simple; there are those who want the heritage America of the past and those who want another country altogether. Those aren’t views that can be reconciled and both sides are convinced that they hold the moral high ground. The conflict has a neo-theological feel to it. It has become a religion to many, the righting of historical wrongs on people living in the present and the only solution is final. There is no compromise with someone who wants you gone.
What most of us do not consider, however, is that all of this, every epic meltdown and scandalous exposure is all a part and parcel of a perfectly natural cycle that has been going on for as long as mankind has existed. It’s what we do. Maybe, if we begin to look at it from that perspective instead of taking it personally, we’ll be able to keep the wheels from falling off of our personal lives, even if everyone else loses theirs.
1) Conflict is why we’re successful as a species. Human beings are soft. We aren’t fast, we’ve got no armor, spines, poison or spray to defend ourselves from attack, our hearing and sense of smell is marginal at best and we’ve got neither fangs nor claws. It takes us more than a decade from our birth to be even nominally able to defend ourselves and when it gets dark our eyesight leaves us virtually blind. And yet we’re still here, more than that we’ve become the dominant species on the planet.
Every survival mechanism, every tool, every improvement we’ve come up with has been the result of our never ending conflict with climate, predators and each other. Our larger brains and co-operative natures worked wonders in coming up with things to equalize our weaknesses by turning inanimate objects into implements of conflict. Long periods of peace for collectives are like long periods of indolence for individuals.
It weakens us and leads to corruption of our spirit as human beings. If there’s no conflict, we create it. Never has it been more clear than in our modern era. Things are going so well that people are ready to engage in a revolution if people fail to use the preferred pronoun. This conflict isn’t something we can avoid, and it is, in fact, something we actually need.
2) Human beings manifest reality. Large numbers manifest it in a way that is supernatural. Events like Burning Man, the Battle of Cannae, those swirling masses of Mohammedans endlessly circling an obelisk of stone, a Taylor swift concert, those are not events made up of individuals, that is a bee hive swarm, an ant colony, a migration of butterflies. The shared joy or bloodlust that takes place on the scale of tens of thousands or even millions is an incomprehensible concept to the individual.
The anger that the current body politic feel for whatever bugbear they embrace is magnified, an ever expanding, anger that becomes societal in it’s dimensions until it cannot be contained any longer by the traditional methods of civility and lawful order. What has happened isn’t anyone’s particular fault, but we all played a role in creating it by buying a ticket to the show. Every tweet, every vote led inexorably to this place and once the collective golem has some life breathed into it, it takes on a form and life of it’s own and it will use us for it’s own ends.
3) Cycles apply to everything. There is no living thing under the Sun that can escape that reality. We are born, we grow, we age and we die. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Lather, wash, repeat. Human beings get to take the ride, but they don’t get to chose where they get on and off. The human cycles float along in Fourth Turnings and they follow them like a blueprint. Some get the best part of run and some get the caboose end and you get what you get and you don’t get upset. We just happen to live in the eponymous Fourth Turning. Please keep your hands inside and enjoy the ride.
4) It’s overdue. Let’s be brutally honest, this really comes down to a battle between good and batshit crazy. It’s never polite to be haughty or superior, but in this case we can make an exception. Sometimes a culture can go off the rails just a little bit and it spells the end of an entire economy and power base, think tulip bulbs, for example. Other times it’s Pol Pot’s Killing Fields. In most cases the trigger is unimportant, but the underlying problems, either of stress and endless poverty, like in Cambodia, or the excesses of too much of a good thing like the guys in wooden shoes went through. Like a good vomit after a night of heavy boozing it’s best to get it out of the system.
In our case the decade after decade of indulgent behavior, increasingly deranged public mores and the atrophy of comfort have turned us into a bloated and corpulent monstrosity in need of a intervention. America is the house that’s been left to the teenagers for the weekend and the parents names are Menendez. This time around the parents have gotten lazy and the kids have been deranged by too much of everything and they both have had enough. There’s no telling which side winds up victorious, but just about everyone on both sides of the divide are ready to rumble.
5) It’s all good, man. While no one knows how things are going to work out in the end, the odds are always in your favor. Civilizations rise and fall, states and nations come into existence and vanish with hardly a trace, but we’re still here. Just as humanity goes on when someone dies, individual lives go on amidst the ruins of fallen empires. Chances are most people will come out the other end, same as it ever was.
It’s always wisest to prepare for every eventuality and even then there are no guarantees, but those who pay attention to the signs and stay above the fray stand a much better chance of breaking on through to the other side, and if not us, hopefully our offspring. It’s a bummer to have to watch the end of what was a pretty bad ass civilization come tumbling down because muh feelings, but it beats a super volcano or an asteroid strike, not to say that those are not a possibility.
This is our time and this is our conflict and it will not be denied. We all must accept the role we’ve already played laying up piles of fagots at the base of the pyre and we must also live with the consequences. When things go medieval it’s going to require a different mindset than the one we brought with us from the 20th century. Let’s hope we are all ready for whatever comes our way.
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