The Decline of Civilizations

Why do civilizations rise, decline, and fall?  Civilizations as diverse as the Sumerians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese all declined, eventually falling under their own weight. Is decline the natural condition of life, with growth being a temporary anomaly in the march of history? Arnold Toynbee, an English historian, authored The Study of History, a classic multi-volume history of world civilizations. Wikipedia summarizes his tome, “Civilizations arose in response to some set of challenges of extreme difficulty, when “creative minorities” devised solutions that reoriented their entire society. Challenges and responses were physical, as when the Sumerians exploited the intractable swamps of southern Iraq by organizing the Neolithic inhabitants into a society capable of carrying out large-scale irrigation projects; or social, as when the Catholic Church resolved the chaos of post-Roman Europe by enrolling the new Germanic kingdoms in a single religious community. When a civilization responds to challenges, it grows. Civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively, and the civilizations then sank owing to nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority. Toynbee argued that ‘Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.’ For Toynbee, civilizations were not intangible or unalterable machines but a network of social relationships within the border and therefore subject to both wise and unwise decisions they made.”  Despite detecting uniform patterns of disintegration in each civilization, Toynbee insisted that leaders have a moral responsibility to end the cycle of decline through courageous “challenge and response” leadership. Civilizations thrive when people unite around common visions for the future, developing specific cultural norms to fulfill the vision. But leaders must constantly arise, who evaluate the vision with the current reality facing the community, meeting challenges head on in order to continue thriving.  Without leaders, the civilization will, as Toynbee said, commit suicide by no longer confronting brutal reality.  God Bless, Orrin Woodward

by Orrin Woodward on Sun 03 Jul 2011 05:34 AM EDT

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The Rascal Manifesto

I was born free and I intend to live like it.

This means that I will live my life while I’m alive.

No one owns me except my Creator.

No one can put me in a box, a category, a social group, a voting bloc, or a classification.

I am fiercely independent, and with those aligned with me in common purpose, interdependent.

I know that with my freedom comes responsibility.

I take responsibility for my own actions, and I hold the bar high on myself.

I am not afraid to struggle, because it’s the struggle that makes me great.

I know that excellence always lies on the other side of inconvenience.

I am a learning machine.

I read, I confront brutal reality, I grow.

Long term, no one and nothing can defeat me, because I will keep coming back, stronger and better than before.

I will educate myself about the true principles of freedom, and I will strive mightily to preserve freedom for the next generation.

I rely on no man and no government to provide for me.

I will not follow the herd of mediocrity and victim-thinking.

I don’t follow herds, instead I run with a pack – a pack of Rascals.

Let others bask in their privileges, as for me, I will invest them in my purpose.

I will defy tyranny.

I will charge the hill.

I will make a difference.

I’m a Rascal!

by Chris Brady

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