Civilization


Civilization – by P.K. Odendaal – December 2018

 This is my third stab at the elusive concept of civilization, and I will keep on stabbing at it until I penetrate its hard skin and its soft belly. It is quite similar to the concept of families, of which it consists. Both concepts are untouchable, intangible, elusive and pervasive.
It is easier to say what it is not, than what it is. To describe something by what it is not is, is futile and accurate, but it will get us nowhere. Sometimes it is accurately described as the fabric of life - thin, it tears easily and it is full of wrinkles. It does not even fit at the seams and collapses if pushed into a corner - much like an infinite continuous function collapses in some of its finite solutions.

What is known is that civilization is much more fragile than we think and it breaks down easily when it comes under stress or duress. It is broken down by war, hate, gossip, hypocrisy and equality and a lot of other things.
It is built up by respect, consideration, learning, art, architecture, engineering, infra structure and art.

It flowers under order, discipline, justice, structure and hierarchies.
It is especially nurtured by the combination of justice and forgiveness. You may have noticed that in a murder court case the family of the deceased is there to seek justice, and rightly so. On the other hand the judge wants to see total remorse on the side of the murderer, and rightly so. Both parties must have closure in the sense that justice was done and that the perpetrator can receive forgiveness.

And, its fall starts with the disintegration of families, which are also supposed to be highly structured, disciplined and hierarchical. And that is why civilization is breaking down now. Families are disintegrating. No more structure, respect and discipline with an all-time high in the divorce rate and single parents count.
There is also little identity left in nations, cultures, uses, religions and languages; the things we should get our identity from.

Do I have faith in the long term survival of the fabric of families? No. Even here justice and forgiveness have taken a holiday.
Do I have faith in the long term survival of basic values? No. Do I have faith in the long term survival of civilization? No.

Can this breaking down of values, families and civilization be stopped? I do not think so.

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