History sometimes pivots on moments

I’ve long been convinced of the power of story. Annie Dillard, Hunter Thompson. Flannery O’Connor. Herman Melville. These authors and others have heavily influenced how I look at the world.

I was reminded today, thanks to a reference to the web site http://time.com/4381471/july-4-moments-change-america/, that there are moments upon which history turns. I took a spin through the list and was reminded of the power of a single story on the path of a nation.

At some point, the old clothes are changed for something new.

I don’t want to overstate, for history is changed by more than the moment, but culture builds to a point of change, and a single event can remove the last obstruction to a course of action that takes our lives in a different direction.

Here, in northwest Iowa, I’m on the lookout for the event that will signal a sharp turn in a number of areas: a deep cultural acceptance of diversity, the emergence of a strong, ethical citizen journalism, permaculture over annual cropping, to name just a few.

In future years, someone will be able to pick out the moment in which a significant shift happens.

Whether it will be legislative action, a change in language usage, the evolution of gender, technological advance, an acceptance that the human DNA includes all colors, changes in sport and popular expressions of culture, the emergence of new global political entities or the evolution of law and order, there will be points in which our history will pivot. It’s an exciting, sobering, sometimes scary notion that we’re part of slow swells that will one day break in directions that have been building for years.

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One thought on “History sometimes pivots on moments

  1. I think what you say is true. It’s true for individuals, too. It certainly has been for me. Looking back, I can see years’ worth of subtle changes that went unremarked and unnoticed until, for one reason or another, I set off on an entirely new path. From the outside, it seemed inexplicable, but there was a deep, internal logic to it all.

    I’ve always called it intuitive planning. That term probably works better for an individual than a society, but I don’t think the dynamics differ much. There simply are more variables, more forces at work, on a societal level.

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