AN ‘ADVANCED CIVILIZATION’: WHAT DOES IT MEAN, EXACTLY?
In this post-modern era of ‘advanced technology’, and ‘cutting edge’ everything, and ‘up to the minute’ and ‘on demand’ 24hr/day, 7 day/week 365 day/year non-stop media madness, we’ve grown accustomed to believe that our civilization itself is ‘advanced’, and that this is, as Martha Stewart is wont to say, ‘a good thing’.
This inherently built-in, long sought-after and fought-for state of ‘advancement’, we’re told, is somehow going to be the light of our lives, a sort of catch all-type of scientific and technologically-based secular-humanist solution to every problem that faces humanity.
But what if, for a brief, not-so-shining moment, we paused and reflected upon one very sobering aspect of all of this ‘advancement’: That perhaps our very state of ‘advancement’ is a significant part of the problem itself!
Let me explain: Being ‘advanced’ can have two meanings. Science and technology can be very advanced, but so too can such things as the rate and types of cancers that afflict the people for whom the science and technology have been created to assuage their afflictions.
These cancers can be in a very strong state of ‘advancement’ due in large part to a very ‘advanced’ state of environmental degradation and pollution, which in and of itself, can quite easily be attributed to a very ‘advanced’ state of moral and spiritual decay in our world, as our blue planet’s resources continue to get wantonly plundered so as to oil the jaw of the war machine which continues to democratize new civilizations and open up their markets for free enterprise and ultimately, for a liberal democratic form of governance, which, after all, is, as Marx criticized, the spokesperson for free enterprise in the first place.
So being ‘advanced’ is a double-edged sword, it would seem. With every step forward that we take to ‘advance’ towards a brighter future, our moral, physical, and spiritual state also decays as our civilization also ‘advances’. To the point whereby we are now at a strategic juncture, to quote John F. Kennedy in one of his speeches, wherein he said that ‘…For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life’.
This, ultimately, is the crux of the post-modern paradox. Where is it taking us? How are the recent events over the last several years in Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Bahrain related to the ultimate destiny of our global civilization? What about all of the Doomsday fear mongering going around? All of this 2012 Mayan prophecy business? What does it all mean? It says in the Bible that we know not the hour or the exact moment when judgement will come.
Are we really landed at the End Times? Is the Biblical prophecy of Revelation truly going to be fulfilled in our lifetime? If so, how, and when?
Ultimately, it is out of our hands and in the hands of God. In the meantime, we can only pray like Jesus himself taught us, to ‘give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’. Amen.
This old-fashioned prayer may not seem so ‘advanced’ to many who have given up on faith and religion, or who, worse yet, were never brought up with any form of formal spirituality in their lives, but for many millions of people around the world, it’s not about how ‘advanced’ you are but how ‘close’ you are, and how close you stay and dwell in the spirit of God.
‘Advancing’ implies ‘moving away’ from something or someone, and ‘moving towards’ something or something else. Science and technology, being often not rooted in faith, ‘advance away from’ and purposefully distance themselves from any notion or recognition of Godhead, and ‘advance’ into the unknown, so as to, we hope, know it, but without the sanctity and humility backing them up, of faith in a Power greater than themselves. Therefore they ‘advance’ with the notion that they themselves and the knowledge that they acquire and pursue are the supreme means and ultimate end unto themselves, there being nothing else beyond the supremacy of empirically-acquired, construed, and proven knowledge.
So maybe we men and women of faith may seem somewhat antediluvian with our prayers and our invocations, and our incense. Jim Morrison of the Doors once said angrily in one of his songs that, ‘you cannot petition the Lord with prayer’. Well, I beg to differ. My mother always said, and so did the Nuns at school, to ‘never underestimate the power of prayer’.
I think at this strategic juncture in the history of the world, that we could all learn to get down on our knees and petition the Lord with prayer. There’s nothing like calamity to make believers out of the masses of doubting Thomases of this world.
Let’s just hope that we’re not too far into a state of ‘advancement’ to save as many of them as we can. Now that would be ‘advancement’, now wouldn’t it?