Every beginning starts with an ending.
This is one of the principles of Pendulum theory.
And the middle is always in the middle.
When our fight with King George ended in 1783, thirteen powerless colonies became “The United States.” This was the beginning of the first America; 3 million citizens clinging to the eastern edge of a vast, uncharted wilderness. Truly, “a land of opportunity.”
Eighty years later – 1863 – we were in the middle of a war between ourselves. (1861-1865)
And July 2nd of that year – the middle day in the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg – was also the middle day of the middle year in our 5-year Civil War.
Fourteen years after the Civil War ended, Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington headed west to capture the ending of the Wild West. Their paintings and sculptures of those ending days now sell for millions of dollars.
Nineteen years after Charlie and Fred headed West, Teddy Roosevelt led his “rough riders” up a hill during the Spanish-American War. His arrival on that hilltop signaled the end of the Wild West, the end of the Spanish Empire, and the end of the first America.1
As I said earlier, every beginning starts with an ending.
The second America began when Teddy became President in 1901. This second America was a land of progress and achievement, a World Power, a country of cars and department stores and Coca-Cola, electric lights, running water, and houses everywhere.
Do you remember when Whitney Houston sang, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”? America’s memory of the Civil War was more recent than that when they elected Teddy Roosevelt.
One of Teddy’s first official actions was to invite Booker T. Washington, a black educator, to dinner at the White House. White-hot rage was ignited across the South. According to historian Deborah Davis, “There was hell to pay… This story did not go away. An assassin was hired to go to Tuskegee to kill Booker T. Washington. He was pursued wherever he went… There were vulgar cartoons of Mrs. Roosevelt that had never been done before.”
The Revolutionary War ended and the first America began: Opportunity America.
One hundred and twelve years later – 1901 – the second America began: Achievement America.
One hundred and twelve years later – 2013 – the third America began: Virtual America,
a “sharing economy” featuring
virtual ownership, (Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit)
virtual currency, (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin)
virtual reality. (Facebook, Twitter, TikTok)
2013 was also the halfway point in the upswing of society’s pendulum toward the zenith of our current “We” cycle. The halfway point is where we begin to take a good thing too far. In 2013 we shifted from “fighting together for the common good” to simply “fighting together.”
Western Civilization2 has done this every 80 years for the past 3 millennia.
I wrote at length about it in Pendulum several years ago:
1783 marked the ending of our Revolutionary War.
1783 was the zenith of a “We.”
80 years later…
1863 marked the middle of our Civil War.
1863 was the zenith of a “We.”
80 years later…
1943 marked the middle of WWII.
1943 was the zenith of a “We.”
80 years later…
2023 will mark the zenith of our current “We.”
I wonder what we’ll be in the middle of then?
Roy H. Williams
1 the America of George W. and Thomas J. and Benjamin F. and Samuel Adams, the patron saint of beer. 🙂
2 Western Civilization began 3,000 years ago in Israel and Persia, then expanded to ancient Greece, then to Rome, then to Britain who took it to North America and Australia.