9/11 – A Fourth Turning Perspective-James Quinn…(Piece of the Day!)
By: James Quinn
Sep 11, 2010
The four turnings comprise a quaternal social cycle of growth, maturation, entropy, and death (and rebirth). In a spring like High, a society fortifies and builds and converges in an era of promise. In a summer like Awakening, it dreams and plays and exults in an era of euphoria. In an autumnal Unraveling, it harvests and consumes and diverges in an era of anxiety. In a hibernal Crisis, it focuses and struggles and sacrifices in an era of survival. When the saeculum is in motion, therefore, no long human lifetime can go by without a society confronting its deepest spiritual and worldly needs. – The Fourth Turning
Nine years after the attack on the World Trade Center the mood of the country has transformed dramatically. I watched the horror on a TV in a conference room at work with my colleagues. I remember being in a daze for a few days after the attack. When it became unambiguous that Osama bin Laden masterminded the attacks and was being protected by the Taliban in Afghanistan, I wanted justice. The entire world rallied around the US. There was worldwide support for the United States’ right to attack Afghanistan and kill the perpetrators.
In the days immediately following the attacks, there were many memorials and vigils around the world. In addition, pictures were placed all over Ground Zero. A witness described being unable to “get away from faces of innocent victims who were killed. Their pictures are everywhere, on phone booths, street lights, walls of subway stations. Everything reminded me of a huge funeral, people quiet and sad, but also very nice. Before, New York gave me a cold feeling; now people were reaching out to help each other.”
There was a feeling of unity in the country for a brief shining moment. If the year had been 2007, rather than 2001, that unity may have been sustained. Anyone who had read Strauss & Howe’s 1997 book The Fourth Turning was likely trying to figure out if the 9/11 attacks were the trigger for the Fourth Turning. But it was too soon. As Strauss & Howe relate in the book, a turning can be sudden or subtle:
“The gateway to a new turning can be obvious and dramatic (like the 1929 Stock Crash) or subtle and gradual (like 1984’s Morning in America). It usually occurs two to five years after a new generation of children starts being born. The tight link between turning gateways and generational boundaries enables each archetype to fill an entire phase-of-life just as the mood of an old turning grows stale and feels ripe for replacement with something new.”