Predictable Economic Trouble

When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of being in the world, of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn’t work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual life-form–or a species–will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap.

Eckhart Tolle
The New Earth

We are in the midst of a fundamental shift. The Fourth Turning, written by Neil Strauss and William Howe in 1997, has influenced the way that I see the world and is a lens through which to view the dramatic changes ahead as part of a predictable, painful, but necessary shift. The book’s premise is that although we think of time as linear and expect things to get better, an objective look at history reveals that time is cyclical. Four distinct phases–growth, maturation, entropy and destruction–follow a predictable pattern. In the collapse phase, institutions that have become undermined, and have lost their footing, crumble.

In the rubble of the collapse we are compelled to look at what is not working and gather the collective will to create durable solutions. This brings to mind the destruction of a forest fire. Although the fire takes everything, it also releases seeds that were dormant until subjected to intense heat. Within a year there is new growth. We will see the same in this country. There are untold millions of smart, conscious people who meditate, pray, practice yoga and the martial arts, garden, knit and reach out to their neighbors. This is the perfect opportunity to get it right. Getting it right means stepping up and realizing that we actually are all interconnected. It also means that sometimes the greater good trumps self-interest.

We perceive our civic challenge as some vast, insoluble Rubik’s Cube. Behind each problem lies another problem that must be solved first, and behind that lies yet another, and another, ad infinitum. To fix crime we have to fix the family, but before we do that we have to fix welfare, and that means fixing our budget, and that means fixing our civic spirit, but we can’t do that without fixing moral standards, and that means fixing schools and churches, and that means fixing the inner cities, and that’s impossible unless we fix crime. There’s no fulcrum on which to rest a policy lever. People of all ages sense that something huge will have to sweep across America before the gloom can be lifted-but that’s an awareness we suppress. As a nation, we’re in deep denial. The Fourth Turning, Winter is Coming

2 thoughts on “Predictable Economic Trouble

  1. If you’re sitting at home this weekend worried you’re next on the layoff chopping block, get out of your head. Yes, the employment rate has reached the highest number in 14 years, but how many pundits and reports does it take to realize that half the reason the economy’s in the dumps is not strictly because of actual financial problems? Half of our problems are literally created in our heads.
    It’s all too easy for Americans to let their economic confidence to follow its path. But we have to do our own part in this. We need to get out of our heads. Since we’re not taking that romantic luxury cruise this January, unplug the phones and computers on a stay-at-home vacation. Refinish that coffee table. Refinish those wood floors. Or attend your local American Institute of Architects chapter events for an enriching experience in architecture.
    In the words of Sheryl Crow, “If we could only get out of our heads… and into our hearts…”, or if you’d like a bit less Bob Dylan with your sugar, she offers this:
    “Someone’s feeding on your anger
    Someone’s been whispering in your ear
    You’ve seen his face before
    You’ve been played before
    These aren’t the words you need to hear.”
    Go to and play an eco-friendly game show hosted virtually by Tom Green.
    Enjoy the free activities your community offers. Some of those might include a humanities festival or a book fair or even a weekly free day at your local art museum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *