Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

The Shattered Tin Man Midst the Shock and Awe in Mid-21st Century Societies I: Shattering and Shock

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I have written a series of essays that feature the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, along with his colleagues in Oz and several real-life therapists who I bring in to treat the Tin Man (Bergquist, 2023a, Bergquist, 2023b, Bergquist, 2023c). Furthermore, in association with my colleague, Kevin Weitz, I have written a series of essays (Bergquist and Weitz, 2022, Bergquist and Weitz, 2023a, Bergquist and Weitz, 2023b, Weitz and Bergquist, 2021, Weitz and Bergquist, 2022a, Weitz and Bergquist, 2022b, Weitz and Bergquist, 2022c, Weitz and Bergquist, 2023) and an entire book (Weitz and Bergquist, 2024) concerning the current status of American communities that are filled with suspicion, distrust and social unrest. Crises of expertise and belief pervade the world in which many of us live.

In this essay, I wish to bring these two sets of concepts together so that we might consider how the Tin Man and his colleagues in Oz would fare in the mid-21st Century. Specifically, I focus on the impact of something I call VUCA-Plus (Bergquist, 2020) which are conditions of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, turbulence and contradiction that I propose shocks the established settings in which the Tin Man and those associated with the Tin Man in Oz had been living during the 20th Century. I also propose that the psyches of the Tin Man et al have been shattered by these challenging BUVA-Plus conditions. Jim Vandehei (2024) of Axios has recently written about the splintering of American society into 12 realities. I take his analysis a step further by suggesting that each of these 12 realities has been created in response to the shattering of 20th Century reality for all of us.

The Tin Man’s World

Let’s first consider the world in which the original Tin Man lived. Frank Baum wrote the Oz books early in the 20th Century.  This was a world (at least in Western societies) where things on the surface appeared to be relatively stable. Certainty was to be found in the traditions that were held firmly in place. These traditions were reinforced by a grand narrative of Western origins that prevailed in most societies of the early 20th Century.  Most collective operations (economic and political) were engaged in a simple manner during this horse and buggy era—leaving most families with clarity regarding how things worked and what they could anticipate in the future. A World’s Fair in St. Louis declared that the world was prosperous and would remain calm and consistent throughout the 20th Century.

Then came World War I. Yet, even this war didn’t shake things up for long (even with massive casualties and physical destruction). There was escape from reality in most Western societies during the 1920s. People of the Western World were reassured that stability, certainty, simplicity, clarity, calm and consistency would reassert itself. However, the 1930s brought about a profound dismantling of this reassurance, as the Western World fell into a Great Depression and authoritarian rule rose to the surface in many European societies.

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