Was reading Sarah's excellent commentary on the US and the violence in its midst...
Gave me the idea for this next commentary of mine...
It's fun studying the rise and fall of the greatest civilizations of all time. Rome wasnt built in a single day, and nor were any of the other great dynasties. All of the great civilizations had made such a lasting legacy that we celebrate them in our art, literature and film.
The way they are created, was forever immortalized by Sid Meier in his great game: Civilization. Basically, the Romans, Greeks, Chinese and other early nations built their empires one small city at a time, taming the land, mastering their immediate terrain, gradually shaping their society, destroying barbaric hordes, conquering existing civilizations, founding forging alliances after alliances, founding new colonies and finally reaching the pinnacle of their society's art and technologies.
What Civilization does not show however, is how the greatest of the civilizations actually fell. It's quite simple really. After the highest point of the civilization's history, the second or third generation of rulers would become lax, incompetent and overall decadent. These generations were those who never took part in the building of the empire, but just stood on the shoulders of their ancestral giants, relishing in the richness and comfort, but forgetting the sacrifices of the ones before them.
For the Romans, these were the senators who fell into obesity and went from orgy to orgy. For the Greeks, it became pedophilia and homosexuality that finally screwed them. The great Chinese dynasties, over-abused their riches and finally fell to barbarians, Europeans, the smaller Japan and later to a new kind of threat called Communism. For all these, the values of the old were forgotten, the threats of the future ignored. In all of these great civilizations, the leaders quarrelled amongst themselves over the most trivial of things, and in the end, the great legacies of their forefathers were lost in a invasion of barbarians or that of a rival civilization's.
I realized that these two things: The founding of a civilization and the laxness which caused its fall, are pretty much standard fare for every significant history. The old adage "He who does not remember history is destined to repeat it." can't be ever truer.
What i'm thinking about is that with the advent of the global economy, the borderless world made possible by modern transportation and the internet, as well as the inevitable mixing of our cultures, this world of ours is just one big civilization.
And how long has it been since this great civilization been founded? Was the borderless world ushered in by the end of the World Wars? Or was it heralded by the advent of the Internet? Was it the introduction of Democracy to every major nation in the world? Or perhaps the death of Communism as an ideal?
...and have we reached the zenith of this age? Are we on the way down?
In any case, I'm seeing the same kinds of problems the ancients once had. Morality is probably at a record low. Almost all of the major rich nations have long since had their third generation from their greatest moments. And i see no more Gandhis, no more Lincolns or other Great Men that seek to inspire today's youth amongst us.
Will history then repeat itself?
Who then will be our modern day barbarians? Will it be the North Koreans, the Al Qaeda or maybe even the Iranians? Or will there be a breakdown in this final civilization of man? A final collapse, or the end of the world as the say?
Only time will tell.
But one thing is for certain: As long as we remember the sacrifices of heroes past, base our lives living out the values they instilled and keep from taking everything we have for granted, this modern-world civilization of ours will still stand.