Speeding Through the Fourth Turning
In 1997, William Strauss and Neil Howe published a book titled The Fourth Turning, where they examine five hundred years of history and uncover a pattern, one they believe will help people better understand modern history. They claim history moves in cycles composed of four “turnings.” Each turning lasts approximately twenty years and they always arrive in the same order.
The turnings are:
- High Confident Expansion – new takes place when old is swept away.
- Awakening – spiritual exploration and rebellion against the now-established order.
- Unraveling – increased troubles, individualism triumphs over failing institutions.
- Crisis – or, the Fourth Turning, where society passes through perilous times.
These four turnings are a part of the heartbeat of civilizations as they inevitably go through stages of growth, maturation, entropy, and rebirth. They conclude that, “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.”
It would seem America is in an unraveling and entering, or already in, the first stages of a fourth turning.
The evidence surrounds us as our society is in decay, not only physically but spiritually, morally, and psychologically. Picture yourself on the beach and you have been warned there was just a large underwater earthquake not far offshore. Next, you see the water rush away from you. You know the signs of an incoming tsunami and you have two choices.
Do you futilely attempt to gather everybody else together, warn them, and then form a human chain to stop the crush of the wave—though most do not believe you anyway? Or do you find those who recognize, like you, that what is happening cannot be stopped but only survived? To stop such an event due to its size and scale is impossible for any human. Perhaps it is better to find a way to get to the other side of the event as fast as possible. By doing this you are better prepared to provide necessary leadership during the period of “High Confident Expansion.”
I agree with option two, that America is approaching a period where we are imminently passing through an unraveling and soon to be in perilous times. But not only America, for I frequently talk to people around the world who reach the same conclusions, primarily in mostly democratic societies. I believe that the leadership of Christ’s church is the only means to successfully survive this societal tsunami, and we must prepare ourselves to lead through the darkness and to be the leaders coming out of the darkness. We must prepare spiritually, mentally, and physically to withstand not only the strain of knowing what is likely coming, but that of living through it also.
Perfectly aligned with this sentiment are the authors’ conclusions that a Prophet generation is born during a High, a Nomad generation is born during an Awakening, a Hero generation is born during an Unraveling, and an Artist generation is born during a Crisis. If we are in a time of unraveling then keep your eyes open for heroes, and they will not come from where you would expect. They are not today’s celebrities and “hopium merchants.” Nor will they be the establishment political class and names you recognize. Instead, they will rise unexpectedly out of the population and surprise everybody, including themselves.
You may be asking yourself that if all this is true, what must we do now? The answer is to get smaller and more self-sustaining. I will break it down into the three categories already listed. Spiritual, Mental, and Physical preparedness.
Be in prayer and in God’s Word so that you may know what role God has for you in whatever comes. Remind yourself constantly that no matter what does come that God is on His throne regardless and cannot be removed.
Prepare yourself for humanity at its worst, and its best. Read books about the psychology of survival and captivity situations. Read about the Stockholm Syndrome and know that this psychology of dependency on captors is true for individuals and societies. Read history, specifically the stories of people who lived through intense conflict.
Know your personal physical limitations and improve on them as much as you can. Also, review Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and focus on the bottom two tiers of physiological and safety. This means being able to meet the food, water, shelter, medical, and potential energy needs for you and your family first. Then, if able, develop plans to meet those needs for a small community and trace each need back to a source. By doing so you’ve created a small supply chain for survival essentials. Also, be ready to provide for safety needs at the individual and small community levels. This includes security and protection.
It is not easy to think about these kinds of scenarios, much less to accept the fact that dystopian reality movies might become an actual reality for us soon. I pray I am wrong and none of this happens. But consider this, if it does not happen you are much better prepared now than you were before, even for things like natural disasters.
I will close with a Max Mayfield quote:
“Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy.”