Thursday, March 19, 2009
Civilization - We Take it for Granted
Civilization is a state of social existence that we take for granted. We assume that the world that humans have created is a force of nature and that it will be there for us in perpetuity. We assume that every morning we will awaken to the same order, and structure, technology and culture, effort and progress that we regard as being synonymous with civilization. We assume that the complexity and subtleties of the social contract that bind us together will continue and be sustained by continued human effort. We do not see, however, the fragility of this social contract; we fail to comprehend the flaws in its structure and the vulnerability to its dissolution. There is a certain and undeniable proclivity towards anarchy and rebellion within the human makeup. There are destructive impulses that periodically break out of captivity and wreck havoc on the state of civilization. It is convenient to call upon evil to explain the ascendency of someone like Adolph Hitler, for example. No one person can be responsible for a behavior that requires the participation of an entire people to forge a crazed idea from a theoretical conception into reality. The urge to raze what has been made; to undermine the framework of an ordered world, lies within all of us. The past has shown repeatedly that what we assume as a given will ultimately collide with forces that will tend to tear it apart. The power of unforeseen events and the cumulative consequences of all that has gone before is what constitute history at any given moment. We are the benefactors and victims of history often at the same time. To be completely sane, it is essential to take nothing for granted and accept that the shadow of death is always with us.