ARE AMERICANS AFRAID OF THE FUTURE?

OR… DOES THE NORMALCY BIAS BLOCK A VALID FEAR WE ARE ON THE ‘EVE OF DESTRUCTION’? 

 

THE MECHANISM THAT SUPPRESSES “WHAT TOMORROW MAY BRING” COULD BE OUR UNDOING

Do most Americans fear the apocalypse?  Is doomsday just around the corner?  Or are more Americans complacent than fearful?  Or worse, are most Americans willfully avoiding an approaching cataclysm because they are swayed by the ‘normalcy bias’?

unknown-2The normalcy bias?  “What is that?” you ask.  Wikipedia defines it this way:

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare and, on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations.

The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred, it never will occur. It can result in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

The normalcy bias dominates the current mindset in America.  Thinking that our nation could never be destroyed is perhaps the most significant mental blunder we make today.  WE ARE AT RISK.  But we naturally suppress the distinct possibility that threatening forces exist within and without our borders. It seems impossible to face the fact that the unthinkable can actually take place.

CIVILITY IN OUR SOCIETY

George Friedman is a moderate political scientist to whom I frequently refer.  I don’t always agree with Mr. Friedman, but I am seldom of the mind that his analysis is without basis.  He usually has highly intelligent things to say.  His insights reflect the moderate point of view.  He seldom takes an extreme position.  Because he provides this moderating voice, his wisdom helps me to keep things in proper perspective — in other words, to not make too much of issues that otherwise might cause me to get angry or to fret.

Friedman published a fine article this week (November 1, 2016) that’s worthy of careful consideration. (See below for the reprint of his article). His piece begins with the issue of whether America is or isn’t in “deep trouble”.  Reflecting on Donald Trump’s presupposition that America is in decline, Friedman reminds us of other times when our country was concerned about the future.  And he asks whether U.S. citizens understand that the troubles we’ve faced might pale in comparison to the experience of our European allies when we consider the aftermath of World War I and II.  Europe was in shambles with millions dead.  America did not experience the same fate at those points in time, although the American civil war did have somewhat the same impact since every town in the Repubic, North and South experienced the loss of many of its brightest and best in the fighting of blue versus gray.

In 1980, in the Presidential election between Jimmy Carter and the eventual winner, Ronald Reagan, created a similar situation to what we find ourselves in today.  There was a strong sense of pessimism and anxiety.  Friedman summarizes the despair and concern with these words:

The sense of decline was rampant. It could be seen in crime and decay in the cities, the surge in Japanese exports to the United States, and the sense that the Baby Boomer generation, unable to settle into family or career, was destroying the fabric of society. The feeling was that the Japanese were surging ahead of the United States economically, the Soviets were surging ahead militarily and we were held in contempt by the world.

unknownFriedman highlights several issues that loom as possible cataclysms that could end the lives we enjoy in the United States:  Immigration, the national debt, the impact of climate change, even mutual assured destruction (a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia).  These fears are discussed openly to some extent today, but the real existential threat they pose to “life as we know it” mostly lurk only in the shadows.  Because they are virtually subliminal, we can become uncivil fearing our future. We get angry and we may react violently. Friedman suggests that despite the uncivility we are seeing today in inner cities and even at political rallies, he asserts it isn’t as bad as the 1970s or as it was in 1929 (the Great Depression).  His summary:

A belief has emerged in America that we are surrounded by hidden dangers that will strike when we least expect it and with a terrible fury. We are enraged when others don’t see it, for the same reason someone being ignored when he says there is a fire will be justly enraged. But everything is not on fire. Our time is no worse than the 1970s and that time was not nearly as bad as the 1930s. But then we think of the Depression and Pearl Harbor and we wonder if we are being lulled into a false sense of security. We are not uncivil. We are afraid. Our fears have serious origins. But reality does not always lead to the apocalypse.

As I pen these words, I’m not so sure that Friedman is right.  The bottom may be about to fall out in America. We do face an apocalypse either real or metaphoric. The recent revelations about Hillary and Bill, the vast corruption that appears to be evident from the emails written by Bill Clinton’s consigliere Doug Band, documents the extent of ‘pay for play’ so rampant at The Clinton Foundation.  This outrageous activity not only threatens Clinton’s candidacy, but should she still win many will assume that the election was (as Trump alleges) “rigged”.  This outcome not only would pose a constitutional crisis (should the now renewed FBI investigation culminate in her indictment post-election), it could spawn vast civil unrest, even civil war. And this huge issue does not stand alone.

Coupled with this domestic non-tranquility is the possibility that Islamic terrorists will take advantage of “no borders” and uncontrolled immigration.  What we see in Europe could be our situation soon enough.  Generally speaking, we underplay terrorism in the U.S. because so far the events, while dramatic and horrific, are few and far between. We are still confident that “it can’t happen here” although it has already begun.

Additionally, we can count on the New World Order agenda (championed overtly and covertly by Western elites) being implemented point-by-point after a Clinton victory. The United Nations will gain greater control over the U.S.  Our sovereignty will be in restricted.  We would indeed find ourselves primed for the one world government Christian eschatologists have been predicting since the time of the Church Fathers in the second century AD.

Finally, if we take Putin at his word, the U.S. homegrown agenda for the New World Order threatens Russia existentially. Recall it was the Woodrow Wilson’s vision of the League of Nations and John D. Rockefeller’s plans for the United Nations that have driven globalism. The New World Order is no imagined bogeyman. It is real and it lurks just beneath the surface of government.  Most consider “the Shadow Government” one and the same. Furthermore, globalism is the enemy of Putin’s nationalist plan to restore the Russian empire. And his efforts to ready Russia for war can no longer be seen as pure propaganda. Putin is readying his people for a war against America he deems inevitable if the candidate he wants to win in the U.S. Presidential election doesn’t score a victory.  And as I have said numerous times in my articles and books, our greatest vulnerability is now – not several years from now.  Russia holds a commanding lead in nuclear offensive and especially defensive weapons.  And they express the willingness to use these weapons to guarantee their security.

BURYING OUR HEAD IN THE SAND

At this moment in time, my deepest concern is not that Americans will become uncivil. Friedman is only marginally diagnosing what is transpiring right now.  In contrast, I worry most Americans are NOT paying attention to how serious things actually are.  We aren’t preparing ourselves for what may soon happen given the unprecedented events making headlines daily.  We can scarcely believe the corruption of the Clinton Foundation because it is so stark and blatant.  Our normalcy bias keeps us from acknowledging that the evil is as real as it is.  What should we do?

unknown-1For one thing, we should take Russia seriously.  We should realize that their fear of what the U.S. intends is not without reason. They speak of CIA actions to destabilize countries that surround their Motherland.  They feel provoked and they say so. Putin has pled with the media to convey the message.  The media doesn’t oblige.

Likewise, we should not assume that a peaceful transfer of power from Obama’s regime to the next is automatic. This is especially true in this instance when our populace fears the consequences of a candidate winning the election that they bitterly oppose.  If this emotional sentiment were to combine with evidence the election was rigged (either direction), the eventual outcome could be explosive.  It would be, in a word, unprecedented.

Additionally, in the last 24 hours as I write this article, we have learned that what has caused the FBI to re-open the Clinton email issue is not FBI Director James Comey having second thoughts concerning his having recommended against prosecution of Clinton this past July, but appears to be the result of a soft, Internet-based coups against Hillary Clinton and indirectly, President Obama.  Dr. Steve Pieczenik, co-author of the many Tom Clancy books, and the real-life person upon which the character of Dr. Jack Ryan was based, announced that individuals from 16 different intelligence departments (likely excluding the CIA) were informally banded together “with the goods” in hand to force changes in the American political system.  This includes a strong recommendation for Hillary Clinton to step aside lest they bring forth a lengthy stream of damning evidence to the corruption of Clinton and the Obama administration that would potentially harm the nation.  Dr. Pieczenik states without equivocation that it is his group that is working with Wikileaks to publish this astounding information.  (Implicitly he is stating that it is American Intelligence personnel and not Russia that is leaking the information about Hillary Clinton and the ring of corruption surrounding her). Here is a link to his 4-minute announcement:  CLICK HERE.  As he states, this is a second American revolution.

unknown-3Therefore, in conclusion, my counsel is that we take the issues we face at this time very seriously.  We should assume that the worse case scenario is not out of the question.  We should warn our leaders of the possible results of an election whose results are challenged by a majority of Americans.  We should make sure that neither candidate or their surrogates foment civil war without overwhelming evidence that force is the only answer.  Nor should we ignore Putin’s concerns.  We should seek understanding and determine whether the preparations for war by Russia are real and for cause.  Assuming they are, we should seek to determine whether we are at fault for creating the circumstances where they have concluded war is their only alternative.  We should attempt immediately to defuse the ticking time bomb.

In short, we must awake from our case of normalcy bias.  Bad things do happen.  The unimaginable can take place.  It seems plain enough that we are, like that old song from Barry McGuire in the 1960s, on the eve of destruction.  If we aren’t able to come to grips with the predicament we are in, that eve will inevitably break into a unfathomable dawn too dire to contemplate.


thenextgreatwar-front-cover-only-12-26-2015-678x1024For more of Douglas Woodward’s writings on what is happening in geopolitics and the fate of America, pick up a copy of THE NEXT GREAT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST available at Amazon.com and their many distributors.

His books are also available in many eBook formats including Kindle.

 


REVIEW OF THE NEXT GREAT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST
on May 23, 2016

From his blog to his books, Doug Woodward is one of today’s most comprehensive prophecy teachers.

SInce the 1970s, many dispensational prophecy teachers have treated a widely accepted interpretation of end time prophecies as settled doctrine; not considering any other scenarios. Doug Woodward takes a fresh approach to interpreting these prophetic passages while honoring those who came before. He takes a humble, yet thoroughly well-researched approach to understanding prophecy and offers a different scenario which reflects a more extensive view of the roles of the United States and particularly modern Russia. We are offered another

This is a serious work, but eminently readable and understandable. The reader is challenged to consider a different path to culmination of this age than is currently being taught by other prophetic ministries. I highly recommend it, even for the skeptic. Prophecy is crystal clear as we look back, but it takes more work as we try to look forward. Woodward appreciates this challenge.

Fresh eyes are placed on the role of Russia, Turkey, the USA, militant Islam and Europe in light of scripture (which is the guiding principle in all of Woodward’s proposed scenario). If you are looking for a modern, biblical, serious work which addresses end time prophecies in an easily digestible form, The Next Great War in the Middle East is a must-read and should be part of your prophetic reference library.


 

Nov. 1, 2016
By George Friedman
The Origins of American Incivility and Fear

U.S. history has left Americans unsettled even in prosperous times.

One of the more striking things about the United States is the sense that it is in decline. Donald Trump’s main theme is that he would make America great again and that it has been in severe decline over the last decades. It was an effective campaign theme because it touched on a deep American dread. In Europe you will find a different sensibility, which is that while Europe has problems, they are nothing compared to the problems in the past – the Soviet threat, Nazi Germany, the mass slaughter of World War I. Europeans look at their past and are grateful to be living when they are. Many Americans feel a sense of a lost greatness and a looming catastrophe.

This sensibility is not new. During the 1970s, there was a deep and oft stated sense that America was in decline. At the end of the Vietnam War the enemy’s flag flew over a capital we had been defending. During the same time, there was a massive social and cultural divide. The culture of the lower-middle class and that of the graduates of the best universities were in sharp contrast. On the whole, it was the lower middle class that fought the war and supported it. The universities were the center of antiwar sentiment and contempt for those who supported the war. The contempt was mutual. The economic situation was catastrophic for many. Unemployment and inflation were both around 10 percent for a good deal of the decade. Interest rates were in the high teens, and buying a house was out of reach for many. At the end of the decade came the Iranian Revolution, with Iranians taking American diplomats hostage and the United States helpless to protect them. The disaster at Desert One followed – a task force sent to rescue the hostages collapsed, with planes destroyed and men dying before the rescue attempt began.

The sense of decline was rampant. It could be seen in crime and decay in the cities, the surge in Japanese exports to the United States, and the sense that the Baby Boomer generation, unable to settle into family or career, was destroying the fabric of society. The feeling was that the Japanese were surging ahead of the United States economically, the Soviets were surging ahead militarily and we were held in contempt by the world.

That was some 40 years ago and clearly the sensibility was wrong. What followed was the Japanese economic crisis, the collapse of the Soviet Union, recovery of the hostages from Iran and the United States emerging as the only global power. Interest rates plunged, as did inflation, and we came into a period of intense innovation and economic growth.

Having passed through the 1970s, as we did, it would seem reasonable that it would serve as a benchmark. A lost war, an extended economic crisis and social stress had not led to catastrophe. Yet, there are few lessons taken from the 1970s to provide some perspective. Similar circumstances are expected to yield the same dreaded disaster.

The sense of dread is more than a response to a particular time. It is also not that Americans lack the ability to use history to frame our concerns – although that may be the case. It has deeper roots, particularly in the 20th century. Two events, about 12 years apart, have left a permanent scar on the American psyche. One was the collapse of the stock markets in October 1929 and the following depression. The other was the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and the following war.

U.S.S. Arizona survivor Louis Conter salutes the remembrance wall of the U.S.S. Arizona during a memorial service for the 73rd anniversary of the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 07, 2014. Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
U.S.S. Arizona survivor Louis Conter salutes the remembrance wall of the U.S.S. Arizona during a memorial service for the 73rd anniversary of the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 07, 2014. Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
There was a common link between the two. Neither was expected by the public. Both were a shock that transformed everyday life for the worse. An argument can be made that both should have been expected. But they weren’t. These two events engraved a single principle on the American soul: that lurking beneath the surface of peace and prosperity are forces that break through and destroy both. In the more extreme formulation, both 1929 and 1941 were known to the elite, who not only protected themselves from the consequences, but also profited from them.

The 1920s were a time of prosperity in the United States (outside of the regions that experienced the Dust Bowl). As with all times of prosperity, the seeds of its own destruction were there from the beginning; people began to believe that it was the new, permanent normal. 1929 stunned people because it was unexpected, but it was the brutal grinding of the Great Depression that scarred the American soul. It created a national memory of hardship emerging without warning. At least some of us approach the best of times with a bitter certainty that hidden behind the false screen of prosperity, disaster is lurking, whether rooted in impersonal economic forces or the hidden hand of the powerful.

Pearl Harbor drove home to Americans that an enemy might strike the United States at any time, without being detected, and decimate the country. Most Americans suspected that the United States would enter World War II at some point, but they believed that it would be at the time and place of our choosing. The idea that the Japanese, whom many Americans held in contempt, could strike without warning and destroy the Pacific Fleet changed the world. The change was not simply that the U.S. was at war, it was deeper. It was the sense that war would come without warning and perhaps destroy us.

These two events changed the American sense of the world. It is overstated to say that before these events, the United States was innocent and carefree. The 600,000 dead in the Civil War would prove otherwise. But the Civil War did not strike out of nowhere, nor did the previous economic crises last for a decade. Combining the surprise at the events with how long and deeply they cut into the United States, a new sensibility was born. It was a sensibility of deep suspicion, not so much of people (although a fear of conspiracy was implanted), but simply of the fragility of American life and power.

The fear of the hidden disaster lurking to destroy us is not necessarily delusional. I happen to think that the 1970s provide a framework to think about our current decade and discount the worst fears we have. But there are reasonable fears and fears that will turn out to be reasonable regardless of my view. These fears serve as an engine for intensifying emotions and going to extremes.

Take two examples from opposite sides of the political spectrum. The concern that massive immigration from Mexico will transform American society and cause crime and disorder is not an unreasonable fear. Most immigrant movements to the United States resulted in some criminal activities and social instability. That is in the nature of immigration. However, when you attach the underlying engine of dread to an argument that may be wrong in this case, but isn’t absurd, you reshape the argument to a level of fear that means anyone who disagrees is a fool or a monster.

There is the concern that human activity is changing the climate and that that change poses a threat to humanity. The argument is not irrational, as we have seen increased temperatures that might well cause serious harm. When the argument on global warming is linked to the culture of dread, then the argument becomes a certainty and the only outcome is catastrophe. And those who take issue with it are fools or monsters. If things are as bad as those who want to stop Mexican immigration or those alarmed by climate change claim, then anyone who rejects the argument is like someone who refuses to see that the house is on fire.

Pearl Harbor defined the Cold War. If an attack can come at any time, then the United States must be ready for war 24/7. We drilled out a mountain in Colorado Springs to house the North American Air Defense Command. We had B-52s constantly airborne, submarines on constant patrol and crews in missile silos standing by ready to fire. I am not sure there was another course, but I do know that having raised the possibility of another course would have encountered rage.

When people write to me talking about the trillions of dollars of debt that will crush the American economy, they do so out of fear of the lurking force that will destroy everything. If you say, “It’s a problem, but we can probably manage it,” you might be called a fool or perhaps part of a conspiracy to destroy the economy.

Mexican immigration, climate change, mutual assured destruction and the national debt are all topics worth serious discussion among serious people, each holding open the possibility that the other is right. But when it is declared that the debate is over, that means that there can be no debate and no changing of minds. If it is a matter of the apocalypse, that is a reasonable thing to say. But if everything is apocalyptic, then no conversation on anything is possible.

In retrospect, we were all fools not to expect the Great Depression or Pearl Harbor. If In retrospect, we were all fools not to expect the Great Depression or Pearl Harbor. If we missed those, then what else are we missing? Someone will be happy to show you what else you are missing and with utter sincerity, he will try to convince you that you are not two reasonable people disagreeing, but that he is trying to save the country, and you are trying to destroy it.

We wonder at the growing incivility of American culture. Going back to the 1960s and 1970s, I remember the chant “hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Even in this election, I have heard nothing that uncivil. Nor have I heard that someone has a list of 100 communists in the State Department. Nor have I seen the dead of Antietam. So no, I don’t believe this is the most uncivil time in America. Not even close. But given the deep anxiety bequeathed us by 1929 and Pearl Harbor, we can see the fear of unexpected disaster can fuel spectacular incivility.

A belief has emerged in America that we are surrounded by hidden dangers that will strike when we least expect it and with a terrible fury. We are enraged when others don’t see it, for the same reason someone being ignored when he says there is a fire will be justly enraged. But everything is not on fire. Our time is no worse than the 1970s and that time was not nearly as bad as the 1930s. But then we think of the Depression and Pearl Harbor and we wonder if we are being lulled into a false sense of security. We are not uncivil. We are afraid. Our fears have serious origins. But reality does not always lead to the apocalypse.

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