The Storm Before the Calm by George Friedman
So…America is not going into a death spiral?
For the past seven years now, I have actively minimized my exposure to news. There is a certain point where more news didn’t help me be more effective in life. How will I be with my family? How will I treat my neighbors and colleagues? How will I follow my mission and service? For the answer to those questions, I have found that it is often more effective to read a book on philosophy or self-development than to watch the news.
The truth is that the news was also just depressing. America, a country that accepted my family as immigrants 40+ years ago, a country that I have served in the military for, a country that I love, seems to be lost. Internally, we seem to have lost a common bond with one another. Externally, our influence in the world has seemed to be in terminal decline.
Making Sense of Our Present Circumstance
In February 2022, Russia invaded the Ukraine, and suddenly we were reintroduced to the struggle and drama of the world. Around this time, I started watching the news again to try to understand and make sense of the world. The traditional news outlets were still as inane as ever; their business model is to serve narratives to manipulate emotion and capture attention and $. News still sucks. So I started reading from those who had a deeper understanding of dynamics of world events. I came across two impactful books, which I will recommend to those who are interested in understanding the current situation beyond news sound bites. The first is George Friedman’s The Storm Before the Calm, which focuses on the historical cycles that affects America. The second is The End of the World is Just the Beginning by Peter Zeihan. If you want thoughtful commentary about what is happening in the world and what to expect in the future, I would highly recommend these two.
The Renewal of America? (is that even possible?)
Let me offer a few things I have learned from George Friedman’s Book.
- America experiences a major political upheaval about every 80 years. The first upheaval happened in the 1860’s, about 80 years after the founding of the Republic. The second upheaval happened 80 years after that, in the 1940’s as America re-oriented towards being a global power. The third upheaval…will be in the 2020’s.
- America experiences a major social-economic upheaval about every 50 years. For example, the last upheaval peaked with Carter in the late 70’s leading to Reagan in in 1980’s. The one before that peaked with Hoover in the late 20’s leading to Roosevelt in the 1930’s. The next upheaval will start in the late 2020’s.
- The 2020’s will be rough. Very rough. According to Friedman, each upheaval whether political or socio-economic, entails much confusion, misunderstanding, and conflict. The 2020’s will be the first time in American history where both cycles fall in the same decade. Uh-oh. Which ever way events play out, it’s going to be very disruptive.
- The 2030’s will be…much better! Interestingly, the tumult of the 20’s doesn’t just lead to even more tumult in the 30’s but paves the way for a new order to things. It would seem inconceivable, but it would also seem impossible to conceive of the peace of the 1870’s with the conflict of the 1860's.
The causes of the upheaval and how it plays out, I’ll let you read the book to find out. I have found Mr. Friedman’s commentary to be very reasoned and plausible. It’s nice to know that nothing lasts forever. The night is always followed by the dawn (although this night is going to be a doozy!).
You must learn to see the world as something which is evolving and becoming; not as a finished work. ~Wallace Wattles
We Are Always in the Process of Becoming
As challenging as these times are now, we should remember that as whole, we have come a long ways. Yeah, things aren’t perfect now, but would you rather have lived in 1000 CE? Can I interest you in 2000 BCE? Each step of progress we make brings new challenges to overcome. The way that we currently live is no longer workable, and so we must learn and change (and endure the trials that change entails). It has always been so and is woven into the experience of life.