A crisis of meaning can last a few minutes, and they can fill a whole lifetime. The length is based on our awareness and whether or not we have the right tools and the courage to go gently through our crises.
Why is it that obvious reforms don't get done? Because behind every status-quo, there is a complex cobweb of vested interests of people, institutions, and corporations -- "actors" -- who would be hurt by change, so they stop it.
Leading sociologists have shown that societies are far more likely to break down when they're overloaded by converging stresses; for example, rapid population growth, resources depletion, and economic decline.