Perhaps it is Time to Stop “civilizing” our Society
Over my lifetime, I have seen a constant impetus to further “civilize” our society. This is widely perceived as a “good” thing and to question the validity of such an assumption sets one outside the conventional wisdom. Perhaps, I am one of those guys.
What does it mean to be civilized? One connotation is “to be polite and well-mannered.” The implicit goal is to eliminate conflict. This has a pacifistic under-tone to it, but typically masks the passive-aggressive environment we often see in public discourse.
We can’t confront the issues directly, so we find other ways to subvert the process. We rarely solve a problem that we can’t even admit we have. This situation is certainly endemic in our local politics.
Alternatively, to civilize (a place or people) is to push for societal, cultural and moral development that is considered to be more advanced. Of course, what we mean by “advanced” is far from clear.
To many people, the move away from the highly competitive world (particularly as it relates to free-market capitalism) towards a perceived kinder-gentler form of society seems like civilizing progress. After all, it is “progressive” to fashion a society in which each contributes according to their ability and receives according to their needs (regardless of effort put forward).
The emergence of Bernie Sanders’ socialism is the embodiment of this notion. Like the New Deal, it envisions government as the agent to regulate capitalism and supplement the distribution of income through government programs.
Along the way, the process has increasingly seen risks, trials and tribulations as undesirable. It also presupposes a very positive view of human nature. We just need incentives (the carrots not the sticks) to motivate people to achieve.
Competition is anathema to such a view. After all competition creates winners and losers…and that is just not fair.
There is a simple truth that seems to be overlooked in this march towards a perfect society. “Life ain’t fair.” Nor, is it easy. Or, without risk. Or, without pain.
I fear that our constant attempts to remove hardship and suffering from life, however laudable in concept, is not just folly, but the direct cause of much of the deterioration we see in society today.
The reality is that pain is perhaps a greater motivator than any inducement can be. What has caused the great human migrations of our times? Is it merely the belief that the grass is greener in another land? Or, is it the fact that circumstances exigent in their environment were wholly untenable?
The wholesale flood of Irish immigrants in the 1800s was largely the result of the potato famine. In fact, they faced a hostile environment when they arrived in the New World.
The contemporary exodus from the Middle East was precipitated by the chaos and violence concomitant with the revolutions of the Arab Spring and the inevitable blow-back from harsh regimes. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 offer to accept half-a-million refugees may have exacerbated the problem, but it was not the prospect of European “milk and honey” that precipitated the exodus.
Sadly, we are creating a generation of citizens in America largely ill-equipped to handle the harsh realities of life. Our society in it’s process of advancing civilization has promoted the notion that everyone is equal (in every meaningful way) and that everyone should be a winner (regardless of their performance).
All people are equal in God’s view, and each is entitled to equal protection under the law and equal economic opportunity. That is where equality ends. People are not the same: some are book smart; some technically gifted, and some ignorant. Physically, some are tall and some petite. They come in many varieties, but we are not all equal to each other in capabilities or characteristics. This is what real diversity looks like, and it is incomprehensible to the Left.
Simply put, life is not a participatory sport, it is a lethal competition and we are foolish to treat it as anything less. If we do not prepare our children to face the unforgiving veracities of the “real world,” we likely doom society to ultimate oblivion.
It is interesting to contemplate the idea that the election of Donald Trump is the direct result of, and a backlash against, the years of neutering the American psyche. Again, something incomprehensible to the Left.
We have a choice. We can either all pursue the comfortable safe, “civilized” place, and in doing so forsake at least some of the progress that pioneering efforts reward us with. Or, we can reevaluate our course and perhaps reverse the trend towards “sameness” and mediocrity.
Of course, such a choice brings with it some of the baser characteristics that a “civilized” society would prefer to mitigate. We can’t have it both ways.
People who take risks and push the envelope of innovation and exploration, often push the envelope of “civilized” behavior as well. It is in their DNA. However, these are the people who also advance our society, civilized or not.