I remember the first time I learned about Maxwell’s equations in High School. They blew me away. Magnetism and Electricity—inexorably linked.
I wonder if humanity has a similar pattern with the two axis being:
- Crisis vs. Calm
- Appreciation vs. Laziness
Crisis vs. Calm is where we go from periods of war and suffering to periods of happiness, and then back again. World War II, followed by the 50’s for example.
And that leads to the next one, which is Appreciation vs. Laziness.
As a generation goes through hardship, they get hardened and learn to appreciate everything in life. Clean water. Not seeing their friends die. Having a job. Having a place to live.
Then they have kids in peacetime and they try to push that appreciation onto them, but most of it doesn’t stick. It can’t, because appreciation is based on experience.
This is why immigrants are the best thing to happen to any country. It’s because they’re in the appreciation phase of the cycle.
America was founded by immigrants. It grew because of immigrants. And much of its greatness today is due to new immigrants.
Find a place where it’s suffering and stuttering and you’ll find a lot of people in the “take it for granted phase” of the cycle. Like they’re owed something for having been here for a while.
You’re not owed shit. America only works if people have the Puritan/Immigrant work ethic. Hard work. Striving. Being grateful for everything you have.
When you don’t have that, you become complacent. Bitter. Angry.
This doesn’t mean everyone in this phase is lazy and doesn’t want to work. That’s not true. But what it often means is that they’re no longer willing to work harder than the immigrants. They’re not willing to outwork the next guy.
That’s when the decline happens. America was founded on people who were willing to outwork the other guy. And everywhere you see greatness, you find those people.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive model: merely an informative one.
So, what we see is a pattern like the following:
- Major conflict happens
- An entire generation suffers greatly
- Afterwards they become extremely hard workers who appreciate everything
- They build up society and some kind of happiness ensues
- They have kids who don’t understand their parents’ obsession with work
- There’s a period of stagnation
- They have kids who lack meaning and purpose
- This creates a vacuum which gets filled by external and strong ideologies, e.g., hate, religion
- Major conflict happens
Right now the West (and much of the world) is firmly in Phase 7, and is moving towards Phase 8.
We haven’t had world-scale conflict in a while, and there are many millions of people who feel they’re owed something. Like it’s being taken away by “those people”.
It’s a bad combo. It always is.
Phase 7 is good news if you’re in the ammo business though.