Fools ignore lessons from the grave. It does seem that the foolish are in control, or why else would we have lost our grip on our beloved country. Our financial houses are failing, our service and infrastructures buckling, terrorists taunt — and the country’s self-image titers. Where do we go from here?
We need extraordinary leadership. But one wonders if the best now speaks from the dust. There’s no doubt that brilliant minds are birthed in every generation. But we cannot count on fate to call them together when we need them. It feels like this is one of those times of need. Where are the trusted defenders?
Have you seen “John Adams”? It’s an HBO special; Tom Hanks is the executive producer. Rich in history lessons, the seven-part miniseries runs Sunday nights. The tale gives meaning to patriot Thomas Paine’s reminder that freedom and liberty must be earned. The rougher the road, the more cherished the results.
The non-partisan show was created from biographer David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name, reviewed as “one of the best selling American history biographies of all time.” It speaks to all who care about our current crisis.
Some believe, as do I, that it was no accident men of incredible courage and selflessness were assembled as one. By what force, we must wonder.
And, it’s worth noting, that what can be considered the most pivotal time in history came, as Hanks said, “When it was hard to be alive.” Yet, they were diligent visionaries, courageous beyond understanding, who chose independence, instantly putting a price on their heads. Had the Revolution been lost, England would surely have put them to death.
And, they were young men. Thomas Jefferson at age 33, who actually wrote the Declaration of Independence; the major portion of the document anyway, and Adams at age 40. Of course there were the other notables, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington among others.
Where are these men in today’s world? Perhaps media, money and brokering have fiddled with destiny too much.
And then, the Scots-Irishmen; the fighters who made up close to one-half of the “rebel” soldiers during the Revolution, who stood with Gen. George Washington when others fled? Those years of the worst kinds of trials were made up of every sort of hero and heroine. Does it take distance — and graves — to learn what matters and how to go about getting it?
But hang onto this: Historians tell us to count on the next generation to clean house when the bell tolls their day. They always have, just as they did in 1776 — those who sensed and led. Again, I refer to the book “The Fourth Turning” to learn from the ashes of history, www.fourthturning.com.
Historians William Strauss and Neil Howe dug so deeply they found that each “saeculum,” or century of time, is divided four ways into a high point of strength, then an awakening, an unraveling and, then, crisis.
They tell us we have entered a point of crisis, a fourth turning — a secular upheaval, a time of replacement of the old civic order with a new one.
That means what’s going on in our beloved country is predictable. The breaking down and away follows a rhythm of generations. And note that the Revolutionary War was a “Fourth Turning.”
One has to wonder if we’ll once again be required to win independence and fight for basic rights, those which were pounded out in the stuffy closed chambers of the Continental Congress. If we must, who will risk everything to do it right? Which of our citizens, and leaders, will betray us?
There’s no sense of comfort or confidence from the media candidates; none from the White House or Congress. It feels as if they’re more in it for themselves. Perhaps, in the end, it will be left to the self-determination of individual states or to individuals themselves. I wonder what the founding fathers would do with America today.