INTERVIEW: Roy H. Williams discusses “Pendulum” theory, patterns in cultural behavior

Listen to KID NewsRadio’s full interview with Roy H. Williams, co-author of the book “Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Past and Predict Our Future”



IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — If the world seems a little tense, a little hotheaded and a little passionate right now, Roy H. Williams, co-author of Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future, says it’s all part of a pattern.

Williams told KID NewsRadio history is made up of two types of generations, a “me generation,” and a “we generation,” two time periods constantly alternating in 20 year increments.

“In a ‘we generation,’ it’s not about big dreams, it’s about actually taking action,” Williams said. “So, a small action is better than a big dream that doesn’t actually have legs, and so, this idea of working together for the common good is that ‘we generation,’ and the idea of individual, manifest destiny is kind of a ‘me generation’ and both of those are good. But, we always take a good thing too far”

According to Williams’ theory, society is currently approaching the zenith of the ‘we generation,’ and can explain much of the political, moral and social discord found in angry tweets, Facebook mobs and aggressive protests.

“The ‘we generation’ always ends in a witch hunt and in the history of western society, anytime we’ve ever burnt people at the stake in 3,000 years, and anytime we behead people, it’s always right at zenith of a ‘we generation,’ because what we do is we say, ‘Hey, you know, we’re all working together for the common good, except we don’t think that you’re working hard enough, or you have a different definition of the common good, therefore you are evil and must be eliminated,'” Williams said. “That’s where we’re at right now. We’re five years away from zenith of a ‘we generation.'”

Surviving the zenith of either generation, Williams said, takes patience and sometimes, a little restraint. Understanding why society is acting the way it is helps individuals better approach some of the more negative behavioral traits found in both generations. As society approaches the zenith of the ‘we generation,” in Williams’ theory, it’s important to weigh opinions against relationships.

“You have to assume positive intent,” Williams said. “Anytime you’re listening to somebody and you disagree with them, if you give them the benefit of the doubt, that they’re not evil, but they believe differently than you do and, if you assume that they actually believe that the things they’re saying is the right answer, and if you assume positive intentdoesn’t mean have to agree with them, it just means that you don’t think of them as your enemy anymore, they’re just a person that’s misguided…If both sides would learn to do that, then we would return to civility, but that’s the only way.”