The Guns of August

This summer feels like the Wild West.

The world occurs to me as something of a multitude of new frontiers, wonderful and horrifying in almost equal measure. Are we equipped to deal with them in a way that ensures our survival and prosperity?

I’ve loved the title “The Guns of August”, ever since I first learned of the original book by U.S. historian Barbara Tuchman. One dominant theme of the book proved to be influential for John F. Kennedy when he was confronting the Soviets on their installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962: namely, the notion that all strategies to deal with the events on the battlefields were based on the last war, and were now obsolete in the face of new technologies, different political realities, and cultural shifts. However, the field commanders and generals of both the Triple Entente and Central Powers were the last to know this fact.

The first months of World War I witnessed such deadly absurdities as bayonet and cavalry charges against machine gun nests, a phenomenon due not to negligence, but simply because the field commanders were trained to use 19th Century tactics to confront 20th Century weapons. The reality on the ground had outstripped the understanding of the leadership, whose training was designed to help them deal with a world that no longer existed. This is one of the core messages of “The Guns of August”.

When I say this summer feels like the Wild West, it’s because, from the personal to the grandest levels of being, it seems that the entire world as we have understood it is being upended, and the rules that we’ve created and were indoctrinated into to deal with it are now obsolete.

On the personal front, my relationship ended, and I was transformed (and am still transforming) into someone who would not only not make those same heartbreaking and hurtful mistakes again, but who would commit to a lover from a place of curiosity, fun, and unconditional love and appreciation. My family is making plans to leave our childhood home within the year, and it’s entirely possible that this will be the last summer in that house. And I am completing old assignments and making way for a new business vision that will be realized before the year is out.

In a rapid order, the changes in my reality are exceeding my long-established rules on how to relate to my reality, and so I find myself in the odd space of re-introducing God into my vocabulary and surrendering to divine guidance every day (more on that in a later entry).

Beyond the personal, we have worldwide preoccupation with the U.S presidential election, with two deeply flawed candidates who have millions of ordinary people worried about the direction that the U.S and the world will take come November. When one of those candidates entertains the notion of using nuclear weapons, and when he doesn’t seem to decline in the polls, you have to truly wonder if this will actually be everyone’s last summer.

If our social media and old media sources are to be believed, we are being convulsed with transformations in nearly every scale. However, can they be believed? Mark Manson writes that ignoring the sensationalist reports, we can look at actual statistics on crime, stability, abundance, and other topics and see that things are objectively getting better, and we’re just more sensitive to all that’s terrifying and outrageous, thanks to social media.

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On a more esoteric note, many spiritual figures in the New Thought movement have said this summer is very closely aligned to the 1967 Summer of Love, and is a time of true transformation. They say that deep within the headlines and the status updates and the personal, political, and global upheaval is the spiritual Armageddon that we’ve long heard about, that some of us have been waiting for. Beneath it all, light and dark are battling it out, and light is winning. You need only observe the desperate, insane tactics used by the darkness to know this for certain.

Source communicates with me and through me far more frequently these days than at any other time in the past. It tells me now that we have crossed a tipping point in the global system, and now we face the simultaneous death swoon of the old order, and the sprouting of whatever new reality is coming in the next few decades. I’m feeling this personally: on many levels, I’ve shed the caterpillar I used to be. Many others in my experience are doing the same, and the ones who are aren’t seem to be suffering from their own resistance to the inevitable.

I suspect our traditional imaginings of how it all collapses need revision: the culture won’t change in a dramatic blaze of glory, but a piece at a time, a shimmering, incremental shift like a heat mirage on the highway. And maybe each piece gets replaced, one at time, until one day, we find ourselves driving around in a civilization that’s got nothing of the original make left. That’s when we’ll re-write the book of how to deal with reality.

Anyway…the Wild West feeling – of new frontiers and unspoiled landscapes, of hidden dangers and lawless travelers and gunslingers wandering the land, governed only by their wits and their own integrity – it’s still here, in my experience as I conclude this entry. There are no paved roads, only open and closed paths, and the horizon is yours if you want it. But you have to keep your wits about you, accept uncertainty as part of the deal, let your integrity travel with your other values, and do the best you can with what you’ve got.

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