Saturday, March 8, 2014

From Decadence to Dust

Recent readings confirm for me --- as if it needed saying yet again, --- that a civilization in which each person works only for him or her self, with no regard for the common good, is headed in one and only one direction:

Decadence unto Death.

So much for the culture of selfishness and greed.

The great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright put it best.  Wright's observation went like this:

America is the only country in recorded history to go from primitive to decadent with no discernible intervening culture.

So where did we go wrong?

Well, here is a nice little word for you:  COMPASSION.  Chew on that one for a while.  Take your time.  Chew thoroughly.

Compassion is the only mode or path by which a civilization may survive.

I am not talking about Compassion as a nice little extra which may or may not enter the fabric of culture according to the whim of the individual.  Quite the contrary.  Without compassion as the outstanding characteristic of any given culture, it will fail sooner rather than later.  Such a culture does not have a chance.
History is filled with fallen civilizations. Indeed lost civilizations are more the rule than not. Even the longest lasting and highest achieving civilizations such as Egypt, China, and India, which recorded history for 4,000 years each, eventually fell to decadence.  And from decadence to dust.

And those are just the civilizations which lasted long enough to be recorded or to leave behind a record of their passing.  It seems the only destination of any human civilization.

If you want to make war, or exploit a people, go right ahead but keep in mind that you will ultimately fail.  Or if you don't fail you will lead your tribe into failure.  It is written in the DNA of Selfishness and Greed.

Medieval Christianity was correct in naming GREED as one of the 7 DEADLY SINS.

Rome, and Byzantium had their heyday and then got mired in excess.  Greed, Gluttony, Slavery, led them into decadence.  In fact, those are a few of the very qualities of decadence.

*  *  *

Milton Friedman was one of the most influential economists of the latter 20th Century.  Friedman came out of the Chicago School of Economics, at the University of Chicago, when the department was headed by one Friedrich von Hayek, who, himself, came out of the so-called Austrian School.  Friedman was so important an economist, hawking as he did, Capitalism with a big C.

One of Donahue's questions had to do with Greed.  Friedman came back quick and asked Donahue "Do you know anybody who isn't greedy, Phil?"  And when Donahue had no quick and easy answer,  Friedman followed it up with this:  "Of course you don't. Greed is a universal human trait. And everybody has it." Friedman touted greed as if it were a virtue to be cultivated.  

But history has posted its warning over and over again.  Now America must choose which path it wants to take.  The naked greed of Wall Street and the oppression from the Fascism which comes naturally from all the wealth being held by 1% of 1% of the population.  And really the proportion is considerably smaller.

Or shall we rise up as a people, nobly and with honor.  And say with Thom Hartmann, you may have One Billion Dollars BUT, you may not have more than One Billion Dollars.  Period.