WHERE CIVILIZATION HATH BROUGHT US THUS FAR
I often wonder about the notion of ‘civilization’. It would appear to me that civilizations have, and continue to do some of the most uncivilized things known to humanity: War, genocide, sexual abuse and perversion, murder, psychological domination and enslavement of all sorts, and so on.
But when you look at it more closely, built into the whole notion of ‘civilization’ are all of these very uncivilized things. This is so because for civilization to emerge, one class of people needs to have it in their heads that they are going to utilize the weapons which up until then they have utilized to hunt for food, to subjugate the land and its people, and to lord it over them.
From thereon in, one gets civilization. The law emerges to protect and promote the money, power, property, and prestige of those whom have seen fit to be sufficiently brave or at least cunning, to arrogate the first fruits of all temporal wealth to themselves and their acolytes. Simultaneously to this emerges religion and deities to regulate personal interaction and morality. Taboos emerge to govern whom may copulate or not with whom and why.
From here on in, civilization ‘progresses’, shall we say, becoming more and more complex, with temples, large centres of learning, armies, agriculture, and so on to protect and promote the interests of the realm, and to produce an elite who will ensure the civilization’s survival, by first ensuring that the elite itself survives, so as to then look after defending and promoting the interests of the civilization at large.
What eventually emerges is that one finds oneself with a portion of the elite which is sufficiently well off financially and materially, that it now finds itself in the questionably enviable position of being able to do nothing but one of two things, sometimes both, but usually not simultaneously: Spend their time contemplating divine mysteries and engaging in long-running and very virtuous acts of pious charity, meditation, and reading and writing of sacred texts. Or to engage themselves in the most base and self-seeking, self-centred, and self-motivated acts of carnal pleasure, decadence, lust, perversion, gluttony, violence, and vulgarity.
Quite often the saints in the history of the Christian Church have been men and women, who’ve done first the latter, then have had a spiritual awakening, and spend the rest of their lives engaging in the former.
We now find ourselves as a civilization here in the West, in this very situation. We’ve ‘progressed’ and ‘advanced’(both words to which we normally ascribe a solely positive connotation), to the point where our elite of ‘leisurely classes’ is very big, in more ways than one, and now finds itself indulging in both the divine, and sacred, as well as the vulgar, profane and decadent things of life.
All signs point to an imminent major realignment. I anticipate that this ‘advanced’ state of ‘progression’ will lead to some sort of simultaneous process of potentially violent and cataclysmic decline, followed by rebirth, like the phoenix rising from the ashes.
What form it will take is anyone’s guess. But our civilization continues to do more and more uncivilized things to itself and the planet in which it dwells. Like Sting said ‘something somewhere has to break’. Some of our elite spokespersons say that humans with our science and technology will come up with solutions to every problem. Personally I think that science and technology is part not only of the solution but of the problem itself, just as God and religion is. (Or at least humanity’s distorted interpretation of God and religion).
People of God and faith need to team up with people of science and technology and work at solving our planet’s problems in a spirit of the Spirit, taking as given that the breath of the Spirit moves all and is at the origin of all, and to humble ourselves before its Almighty power, not deigning to think that we are above it, simply because we have the ability to seek it out and obtain it through the ‘magic’ of learning and scientific knowledge, which, left unchecked by sound moral and spiritual principles inevitably leads to hubris, and thus to perversion.
I can only hope that men and women, who contemplate divine mysteries due to their civilization’s abundance, shall prevail over the purveyors of decadence and perversion. The whole notion of a ‘civilized civilization’ hangs in the balance.