Why Societies Decay
As we look back on history we can see a familiar sequence in the rise and fall of nations, repeated without any lessons learned. Many things have been tried and found lacking. Why is it that in the course of time, seemingly regardless of the efforts of one generation to pass on their values to the next, any given society is almost guaranteed to sink into chaos?
Through experience, we adopt a set of convictions, things we hold to be foundational and indisputable. Then we build our lives around those convictions, forming character traits that flow naturally from them. And then our actions are the expressions of our character. So I think one possible explanation is that instead of instilling the next generation with the reasons for our convictions, we try to do what amounts to planting a stick in the ground and expecting it to grow branches and sprout leaves: we only tell them what kind of character traits they should have without providing the experiences that would form convictions in them.
This would also explain religious decay as well. While it’s true that many come to faith with experiences and convictions of their own, many more simply adopt the character traits or even just the actions. And like cut-off branches or trees without roots, they eventually run out of “life” and dry up. This is seen both in individuals and groups of all kinds.
Our world today is on the brink of utter chaos. Societies are sinking into a cesspool of debauchery while trying desperately to still find some “glue” to hold them together, an externally-applied “life”. But like plastic or metal tubes painted green or brown, these “trees” are lifeless and will not last. The children who never had their parents’ convictions have now grow up to take over government and industry, with results we see now.
So let’s make an effort to do more than spoon-feed our convictions to our children. Let’s find a way to help them make them their own, so they will in turn pass them on in the same way. That is the only cure I can think of for this vain cycle we’ve always had.