This weekend, our communities gather to remember; and remember we will, the glorious beginnings of America.
We gather, though, with furrowed brows. Everywhere we’re warned, “America the Beautiful” is in for a tough go and so we hold extra close our independence; our pride in this great democracy.
Yet, unless we embed our history into our children, eventually those of us with deep memory will have died off. And, then what?
This past week, I reread “The Fourth Turning,” an historical account of “America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny.” It’s a credible look into the next 25 years, and warns that America cannot be saved from its “unraveling.” You see, civilization follows rhythmic cycles (“turnings”) and each is predictable. Perhaps you’ve noticed, our current cycle is pushing us into “crisis and secular upheaval.”
Noted historians William Strauss and Neil Howe have documented four cycles within each century. They point out that modern societies only see life in straight lines, leaving us at a disadvantage. Linear thinking does not anticipate repetition. Thus, we are caught off guard when we enter each cycle.
The ancients have known as far back as Rome about the four cycles. Strauss and Howe define them as: High (growth), Awakening (maturation), Unraveling (entropy) and Crisis (destruction). The cycles are a “natural rhythm of the social experience,” not unlike earth’s four seasons.
And likewise, most Native Americans also understand that each century (or saeculum) contains the four cycles ending in “ekpyrosis” — a recurring destruction and re-creation. America has now re-entered “ekpyrosis.”
The author’s predictions for this current cycle suggest crisis such as famine, possible economic collapse, catastrophic war; definite upheaval, perhaps even geographically. Beyond this “fourth turning” will be a return to the “first turning” — a period in which a new civic order replaces the old regimes. Our children and grandchildren will be the architects. Older generations can help prepare them by passing on what we know.
We condemn ourselves and our future posterity if we fail to teach the inspired history of American freedoms, of how a government by the people came about. And, we fail if we don’t tell the stories of the blood spilled to gain our independence.
Many Native Americans religiously repeat the stories of the “turnings” to each generation. They accept the responsibility of forwarding their wisdom. Moms and dads, ladies and gentlemen, it’s our mandate.
As fireworks explode and children gaze in wonder, teach them to hold onto the values that built the greatest nation ever. Strauss and Howe claim that classic virtues will return in the upcoming collapse: “Sharp distinctions will be drawn between people who can be counted on and those who cannot,” they write.
The authors push readers to recognize the cycles, and prepare for them physically, emotionally, intellectually and the best we can, financially. In doing so, we prepare our children.
As for patriotism? Give their future the gift of wisdom, including why America’s beauty is more than surface deep; why its grandeur is rooted in our freedoms from tyranny. When the time comes, our children will remember because their legacy will be priceless history.
East Valley resident LindaTurley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist andformer Phoenix veteran TV anchor.