In the book, The Fourth Turning, the authors suggest (also as outlined in Core Principle #8 The Seasons of our Discontent) that when a country enters a CRISIS as defined in the book, generations take on their archetypical roles, and for John McCain, a member of the Boomer Generation, that role is the Prophet. It is this generation that came of age in the Awakening of the 1960’s that plays the role of the Prophet. Some like McCain fought in the war in Vietnam while others of his generation protested the war. It isn’t their political leanings that make them Prophets but the moral certainty they possess in their good intentions.
A good Prophet will obviously warn of the spiritual longings and failings of the country and will call for repentance and sacrifice. The downside of this Prophet Archetype is that they occasionally go bat shit crazy and might get us into a war to end all wars, especially when they occupy positions of political power. It is under these circumstances that the more pragmatic Generation X’ers, Nomads, must help to balance out the excesses of the fiery Prophets.
Recently, John McCain suggested that we arm the Jihadists, which are opposing the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies, with handheld stinger missiles just as we did in the Soviet-Afghanistan War in the 1980’s. It would seem that these weapons might end up being used against us and might dangerously escalate tensions with the Russians. As the history of Al Qaeda suggests, once a terrorist organization is created, it takes on a life of its own and often resists the master that created it. As important, once the weapons are no longer under our control, then their targets may be us. I am not sure how introducing these weapons helps the Middle East.
But more importantly, McCain’s suggestion demonstrates how a guy described, as someone capable of thinking outside the box, can look at the chaos in the Middle East, much of it our making, and conclude that Cold War thinking is the answer. We should all listen to the Prophets, but understand that they often hear voices of certitude that us mere mortals can’t discern.
It is the pragmatic, Archetype Nomads, Generation X’ers that have to make the trains run on time. They have to arm and lead our Hero Archetype, Millennials, in whatever the CRISIS throws at our country. They don’t have he luxury of always accepting the messages from people who hear voices.