Our place in generational history: Hang on; the mess is almost over
This presidential election will, on hindsight, be recognized as the precursor to the catalyst that ignites the transformation of America from fragmented, angry and disillusioned into cohesive, collaborative and powerful. America will move away from six decades of tearing down to four decades of building up and then we’ll start the process over.
Our young country has found itself in this very space three times before in the five-10 years leading up to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the War Between the States in 1861 and World War II in 1941. Every 80-85 years, we enter this final generational shift that culminates in what can only be understood as a conflagration that burns off the accumulated mess and re-positions us for growth.
Within the next decade, and I believe within the next five years, we will face that catalyst. Am I predicting another Civil War, another World War? Lord, I will always hope we can side-step history, but I accept that the catalyst must occur.
Whatever the event, it must be shatteringly catastrophic if we are to coalesce the dangerously fragmented American peoples toward a common cause and eventually create the conditions that will foster a return of our best selves.
Donald Trump did not create this. Hillary Clinton could not prevent it.
At best, Clinton would have delayed the inevitable with four or eight years of stasis and increasing anxiety. At best, Trump’s presidency speeds up the timeline, gets us there faster — and gets us to healing sooner.
Either way, by 2026 we will have completed the generational turning, the cataclysm will be behind us and Americans — all Americans — will believe we can do wonderful things.
By the way, the cataclysm doesn’t have to be a war. It can be something staggering, shockingly, cataclysmicly good. It’s just that 600 years of western history has always turned on a bloody mess. Sigh.
You know that cliche, “darkest before the dawn”? Yeah, like that.
I was hoping Clinton could pull out a squeaker. I like her; always have. But, I’m not hurling myself off that cliff of despair either.
“Dear Connor” is a collection of essays written for Connor Cunningham by his grandmother, Linda Grist Cunningham. I began writing these as my construct for making sense of the unraveling American community. Connor may never read them, nor might others; but they’ll help me distill solutions from the cacophony that passes for discourse in final crisis generational turning of America.