In 2015, as I was writing the novel, Those Who Remain, Book 7 in The New World series, I was also reading a lot about generational theory. It is from my research, specifically, The Strauss-Howe Generational Theory, advanced in their books, Generations and The 4th Turning, that I was inspired to write the quote, 'Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.' The quote is an oversimplification of generational theory, and simply surmises that as a nation state goes from a difficult existence to prosperity, the generation that has been coddled, 'the weak men', lose their way, causing hard times for society. The weak men become complacent, forgetting how their forefathers gave birth to the good times and even become antagonistic to the norms of which the nation became successful. The sentiment behind the quote is not new, in fact it is old if not ancient. There has never been a generation which doesn't look at the younger generations and believe they were weaker. I should also note, because this sentiment isn't new there are variations which have been expressed by different individuals throughout history. The overall concept and sentiment expressed is timeless, and can be traced back to the 14th century philosopher, Ibn Khaldun and even further back to Plato himself.
The quote went relatively unnoticed for years until around 2020 during the height of the contentious presidential election when it began to appear...EVERYWHERE! I was shocked, but also not, as it is a powerful statement which was made between my main character, Gordon Van Zandt and his grandson, Sebastian Rutledge.
When one studies history and layers in generational theory, you can see each generation is effected by not only how they were raised but by where they sit in history. To learn more about generational theory, I highly suggest you visit here to understand it better.
In the quote itself, 'men', is really a reference to 'mankind'. With that said, let's breakdown what a strong man is. A strong man is someone who isn't only physically up for the challenge. And yes, physicality plays a role as one who cares for their body is disciplined and understands their bodies are critical to caring for not only themselves, but their loved ones. A strong man is also virtuous, regimented, focused, driven and self-less. Their goal is to care for those around them and strive to build a sustainable and value driven society built upon common beliefs. They are purpose driven people.
A weak man, is someone who tends to be selfish and even narcissistic. Their only concern is their own pleasure or desires. They are literally the polar opposite of a strong man, and their values are driven by a need for 'self' above all else. They tend to value being entitled to what a wealthy society has provided without ever daring to contribute to it. In fact, a weak man will often complain that the current system has failed them even though they live in relative comfort. Think of the person who goes to Starbucks, and on their iPhone complain about capitalism on Instagram or Facebook. These people have forgotten history and have no knowledge on how their surroundings have come to be, in fact, they will declare the system should be dismantled. That declaration leads to an ushering of 'hard times.'
Some say we currently live in perilous times, and I agree. We are in the 4th Turning, meaning we are in crisis which will lead to conflict, war, and an eventual overturning of the current system or remaking of it. While this prediction may be scary to think about, many good things can also come from it. What we must do is prepare ourselves because not to do so would be to abdicate responsibility to yourself and your family. The times are a changing...and remember you have a choice, are you a strong man or a weak man?
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