I live in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. I know a bit about gardening, a bit about seasons and the earth moving around the sun, a bit about generations and a bit about trends.
And while I jus’ luvs me our new president and feel he is, indeed, The Man for the Times, I do wish he had the strength and fortitude to say, “I’m sorry, there isn’t going to be any “stimulus” package now because 1) we don’t have it and 2) it won’t do us much good.”
While many have their squibbles and squabbles about said “stimulus” package, I have my own version of them, and it’s this: You can’t grow fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes in winter. As a matter of fact, not much of anything green and edible grows in winter. Why? Cuz it’s winter. And winter has a different purpose and part to play in the cycle of life.
Winter is when it’s time to conserve energy; stay close, warm and huddled with family and community; fix broken tools and maybe even make some new ones. In Nature, winter is when plants pull deep nutrients into their root systems, preparing for the spring. (That’s why the time to fertilize many trees and shrubs is in the late fall. To fertilize a shrub in the summer would be disruptive to most shrubs’ systems.)
See, in generational theory, in every Fourth Turning, it’s Society’s Winter. In “winter,” the Prophets (Boomers) are moving into elderhood; the Nomads (GenXers) are moving into midlife; the Heroes (Millennials), into young adulthood; and the Artists (Homeland Gen) are being born into childhood. In winter, all energy is about survival of the tribe (understanding some won’t make it through), placing the values of community over individual needs and making tough decisions so that there is, indeed, a future for The All.
Winter is not a time of harvest; harvest is the energy of Fall (1984 – 2005/6). Nor is winter time for the carefree days of Summer (1964 – 1983) when permissions were lax and worries were few. Nor is it the Spring (1943 – 1962), which started this whole cycle, when the capacity, strength, fortitude and can-do-it-ness forged in the just-prior Winter created the conditions for America to emerge, capable and ready for a glorious future.
Winter is winter.
Treat it otherwise, and there is risk of damaging capacity in spring. Mr, Obama, I know you mean well. I know you have pressures coming at you from all over the place. I know you genuinely want to do good. But your strength as a leader, right now, at this time, is to call a spade a spade and then act into it.
We are in winter, and only in the beginning of what is likely to be a 20-year component of a four-seasonal cycle. Ain’t nothing you can do to get us back to where we were. Why? Because Winter turns to Spring. Winter doesn’t cycle backward to Fall. Your job now, Mr. President — if I may be so bold — is to do your best to lead our country through dark, cold nights so that come Spring (when you’ll long past have been president) we can emerge again for another glorious cycle.
You’re going to have to make profoundly difficult and painful decisions. You’re going to have to let people know that the social contracts and promises offered in and by prior generations cannot be honored. That, together, for the good of the all, expectations are going to have to be adjusted. And that not only is it no longer moral, it’s just no longer possible, that older generations can continue to receive the bounty while passing along the cost to their progeny. A rebalancing, a shifting of expectations, an examination of where we are, who we are, what we are as a country and as individuals is imperative.
And while this may eat at you, and tear at your heart, and how you may not be able to imagine having to make such decisions and speak such words, it is your job and it is your duty. And the people trust you. And they believe in you. Right now, much of the euphoria may be to hope that you can restore America. But restore us to what? The unsustainable economy of the past 20 years? The expectations of social contracts to be paid upon retirement but no willingness by today’s elder generations to fund even their own coffers when they had the chance? When they were young and in power?
I know you knew this road would be tough. Tougher than most want to believe. And, I offer, it’s tougher even still. For all your capacity — and even if bickering partisan antics disappeared overnight — you cannot grow sun-ripened tomatoes in February in DC. The sooner we all acknowledge that, with you at the lead, the faster we can begin to act appropriate to the season at hand and the faster genuinely effective solutions will emerge.