Saturday, February 02, 2008

Signs of Decline

Please be tolerant of my 3:00am rant...

What are the signs of a declining society? Rome eventually fell apart, mostly through a lack of national self-will. People were too interested in possessions and not interested enough in defending their own borders, and pretty soon they didn't have any borders to defend anymore. So yes, societies do sometimes fall apart, and there are reasons for the decline. I'd like to suggest some reasons:

racism - causes strife within a society and means all members of that society are not able to fully participate. If you think you can achieve national greatness by denying the best efforts of 10 or 20 percent of your population, go ahead and try. You'll fail.

antisemitism - see Genesis 12. The verdict of Scripture and history is that those who hate the Jews are eventually destroyed (remember the Thousand Year Reich?). But on the other hand, justice demands that we be compassionate also to the Palestinian people.

lack of national self-will / lack of national confidence - as mentioned above. When a people cannot rouse themselves out of a stupor to accomplish anything, they will be destroyed by those who are more dynamic or who have a stronger national confidence

lack of national identity - at some level a country is a group of people who have something in common, and who have loyalty to that common identity. If a country is filled with people who have no loyalty to that national identity then it is no longer a country; it is multiple groups of people who happen to live in the same geographic area

national self-loathing - when a nation feels required to show our tolerance of others by hating our own nation, we're in trouble. For example, if we feel a need to show tolerance for other races by hating our own race, we are in trouble (real racial tolerance involves accepting all races, not in hating your own race). As another example, when we feel a need to deny the accomplishments of our own country, in an effort to atone for the mistakes our own country has made, that's a problem (e.g. if we are ashamed at the treatment of Japanese Canadians in World War 2, we shouldn't try to over-compensate by denying Canada did a noble thing in fighting German and Japanese aggression overseas). Deriding patriotism is one symptom of national self-loathing. A failure to teach history is another.

rights without responsibility - when everyone has rights but nobody is held responsible and nobody is accountable, a society is in deep trouble

failure to have children - the Romans realized this, actually had laws about it, but eventually gave up. Yes, children provide the next generation of workers and soldiers. They are the next generation of economic activity. But ultimately children are an expression of our confidence in the future. Societies that can't be bothered to have children (whether through lack of confidence in the future, or because it's too much work, or because we're too busy doing our own thing) and fail to provide those children with a proper family life... fall apart.

denial of general revelation - General Revelation is a theological term, and it means the light that God grants all mankind. If a nation denies general revelation, they are in trouble. Now I don't mean they need to be Christians or understand Christian theology. But for example it should be clear from Special Revelation and General Revelation, that we live in a morally consequential universe. It should be clear that ideas are not harmless constructs, but that ideas have consequences. There is right and wrong. There is true and false. There is such a thing as morality. All moral choices are not equally valid. When we lose sight of this, we're in trouble.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Deborah said...

What a spot-on rant!

Thanks for sharing. We live in California, and the signs of demise you mention are everywhere.

12:50 p.m.  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...

Thanks Deborah. Maybe at some point I'll expand this into an article.

2:23 p.m.  
Blogger Ed LeBlanc said...

Once again, another good post. And once again it has inspired me to write a complimentary piece.

http://edleblanc.blogspot.com/2008/02/reversing-signs-of-decline.html

3:22 p.m.  
Blogger Shawn Abigail said...

Thanks Ed.

FYI - your URL links seem to be too long to appear properly.

6:08 p.m.  
Anonymous jgriffin316 said...

Funny, we just a discussion this evening regarding a failure to have children. I contend that not having children is a reflection of societies selfishness and decadence. Having children is a decision to put someone else's interests ahead of your own. How can you do that in a "me" centred society?

9:55 p.m.  

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