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Missive #147


A neighbor asked to borrow Nasruddin’s donkey.

Nasruddin did not want to loan him the donkey, but he also did not want to appear to be ungenerous. So, he made up an excuse.

“I’m sorry, but I must say no,” said Nasruddin. “The donkey is not here right now; I loaned him to my brother-in-law, and he still hasn’t returned the donkey.”

Then, at that very moment, the donkey let out a loud bray from inside the stable.

Before his neighbor could say anything, Nasruddin gave him a hard look. “Who are you going to believe: me, or the donkey?”

This Tale is from “Tiny Tales of Nasruddin” by Laura Gibbs. The book is licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. © 2019-2022 Laura Gibbs.

Twenty-five years ago, Neil Howe and the late William Strauss dazzled the world with a provocative new theory of American history. Looking back at the last 500 years, they’d uncovered a distinct pattern: modern history moves in cycles, each one lasting roughly eighty to one hundred years, the length of a long human life, with each cycle composed of four eras—or “turnings”—that always arrive in the same order and each last about twenty years. The last of these eras—the fourth turning—was always the most perilous, a period of civic upheaval and national mobilization as traumatic and transformative as the New Deal and World War II, the Civil War, or the American Revolution. This is a very good book. I think it may be even better than The Fourth Turning published in 1997 which I read not long after it was published. The author is optimistic but he does provide an outline of what we may face if his optimism is misplaced. Recommended!

Now, right on schedule, our own fourth turning has arrived. And so Neil Howe has returned with an extraordinary new prediction. What we see all around us—the polarization, the growing threat of civil conflict and global war—will culminate by the early 2030s in a climax that poses great danger and yet also holds great promise, perhaps even bringing on America’s next golden age. Every generation alive today will play a vital role in determining how this crisis is resolved, for good or ill.

Illuminating, sobering, yet ultimately empowering, The Fourth Turning Is Here takes you back into history and deep into the collective personality of each living generation to make sense of our current crisis, explore how all of us will be differently affected by the political, social, and economic challenges we’ll face in the decade to come, and reveal how our country, our communities, and our families can best prepare to meet these challenges head-on.

A couple of quotes from the book; there were a lot more that I should have quoted.

It is not worthwhile to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man’s character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible. — Mark Twain

Rival communities during a Crisis, once they are fully engaged in unconstrained conflict, tend not to relent until the capitulation of the adversary. Historically, as we have seen, such struggles have been unusually destructive of lives and property. While the conflict rages, in fact, the community’s willingness to sacrifice becomes itself a public rallying cry that drowns out any personal misgivings harbored by individuals. Champions who embrace sacrifice are celebrated. Shirkers who avoid it are scorned. From a group-survival perspective, indeed, shirkers and defectors must be punished as aggressively as outside enemies.

Nothing much happening this past week with the shopping trip to town on Wednesday. Stopped at WalMart and had my reading glasses frame adjusted again. The nose pieces were making my nose very sore. I had them adjusted a couple weeks ago to keep them from sliding down on my nose; which they fixed but created the painful place where the nose pieces were resting. I think they might has got it right this time.

In the Presence of Fear is a three essay book by Wendell Berry that has his ‘Thoughts in the Presence of Fear’ as one of the three. I found that essay at Orion Online as well and recommend it as a read. Only one quote.

“This is why the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a temptation in a national crisis, must be resisted by officials and citizens alike. It is hard for ordinary citizens to know what is actually happening in Washington in a time of such great trouble; for all we know, serious and difficult thought may be taking place there. But the talk that we are hearing from politicians, bureaucrats, and commentators has so far tended to reduce the complex problems now facing us to issues of unity, security, normality, and retaliation.

National self-righteousness, like personal self-righteousness, is a mistake. It is misleading. It is a sign of weakness. Any war that we may make now against terrorism will come as a new installment in a history of war in which we have fully participated. We are not innocent of making war against civilian populations. The modern doctrine of such warfare was set forth and enacted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, who held that a civilian population could be declared guilty and rightly subjected to military punishment. We have never repudiated that doctrine.” — Orion Link

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