Again, that goal seems so… idealistic… so beyond reach, so unobtainable. But it is clear at this point that the goal of making all things new, the goal of total realignment, is not just a pleasant thought, it is an essential need. If we continue on this path, we will be destroyed.
But how do we fix it? It is really easy to point out everything we don’t prize and to be disgusted with the things that are destroying us just like it is easy for a doctor to say, “You have cancer.”
The problem is not in identifying the symptoms, it is not even really in identifying the disease (even though most of us will be uncomfortable with the diagnosis—not unlike a patient who has just learned that she has cancer). The problem begins in identifying a cure that does not result in our death (a person who dies from radiation therapy doesn’t have cancer anymore, but we would not really consider the treatment successful). But when we talk about a cure for a disease whether it is cancer or AIDs, we are not talking about a way to remove it from an infected individual, we are talking about eradicating it altogether. In the same way, when we talk about a cure here, we are not just talking about removing the problem, we are talking about a long-term solution so that future generations do not have to suffer in the way that we have.
All that sounds profound, but it is just talk: knowing that we need a permanent cure does not get us any closer to finding that cure.
Here is the bad news: the problem is deeply rooted in the way that we function in Western Civilization. Let’s face it, America did not invent a system of global economic gluttony (we may have perfected it, but we did not start it). Every symptom listed in the first post is really just a modern manifestation of a problem that has been around for all of our know history: war, vast economic disparity, slavery, greed, living convinced that we are morally superior and entitled to be the oppressors, etc. All of these are constant issues that plague civilization.
So the solution is simple: We deliberately abandon civilization. We collectively call it a failed attempt at a good social structure, and we move on to something else. It really is that simple.
I have a friend who studying to be a veterinarian. She said something once that has stuck with me ever since. She said, “It’s simple, but not easy.” There is nothing easy about abandoning 4000 years of Civilization, but we are at point where we seriously need to ask if we can take another century of it.
In his book, Beyond Civilization, Daniel Quinn talks about how several other cultures who experimented with Civilization and eventually walked away from it here in the Americas. Which begs the question, why were they able to leave it when it demonstrated that it was destructive? Further, why have we been so unable to leave it even after multiple world wars? The answer, he says, lies in ‘memes.’ Memes are the genes of a given culture. They carry the DNA of societies. We have a meme that says, “Civilization must succeed at all cost.”
Here is where my line of thought breaks with Quinn: I believe that this meme was introduced by Christianity. In AD 313 (or 313 CE for those too easily offended by their own history), Constantine, the emperor of Rome, issued the Edict of Milan. This document made Christianity a legal religion and resulted in the ultimate marriage of Church and State—and damned Christianity, Rome, Civilization, countless now-extinct species, and possibly humanity to destruction. What makes Christianity so dangerous is the way that its adherents sell out to it. They believe things like, “The cause of Christ must succeed at all costs.” Although that meme would express itself in unimaginable acts of violence and torture, prior to AD 313 “at all costs” meant at the cost of their own lives. Christianity was a non-violent, tribal movement within civilization that was threatening to overthrow its host through the death of its own adherents.
Quinn argues that the Edict of Milan did little more than permit what persecution was unable to stop. I would argue that it did far more than that. It actually paired the two cultures; modern Western Civilization is the mutant child of the two species. Take the Crusades for example. Even in their day they were view as Christian violence against Arabic Muslims. But you have to ask, where did Christianity come up with this idea? Military expansion was not a meme that was present in any of their foundational teachings. In fact all their leaders except St. John the Apostle died a non-violent martyr’s death—including Jesus, who Christians view as the full embodiment of the Devine Creator in human form. Even the God they worship chose to die Himself rather than take the lives of those around Him. So, where did the Crusades come from? And how did they get the idea that they were a logical course of action for a “Christian Civilization?”
The answer is in the second word of that phrase—civilization. Christianity was a tribal movement. Even the King they submitted to was a metaphysical one (meaning that He was not physically present on the earth). When they talked about being citizens of a kingdom, for them it was about embracing a set of values that globally unified them as a people regardless of national, economic, or religious background. It is Civilizations who wage wars. Rather, it is a meme present within Civilization that says, “Military action is reasonable for both the protection and expansion of Civilization.” No one would be disturbed (indeed we are not disturbed) when we hear about Roman, British, French, Russian, Mongolian, Assyrian, or Egyptian military conquest—all of which are historical facts. We even expect Civilization to attempt to advance itself militarily. We are only disturbed when we find that Christianity attempted it once (or 4 or 5 times). The Europeans claimed that the conquest of the Americas (and the injustices done to its indigenous peoples) was for the cause of Christianity, but Europe was not attempting to conquer Asia even though they were “pagans”—they were trying to trade with it. Why is that? Because Civilization already existed in the East. They only treated the Native Americans the way they did because they lacked Civilization, not because they lacked Christianity—regardless of how the leaders pitched it to the commoners and justified their actions in history books.
Again, we see how the pairing of the spreading memes of Civilization with the preservation and greater purpose memes of Christianity that exist in Christendom (Christian Civilization) is a deadly cocktail. This is not the fault of Christianity or Civilization—it is the unfortunate bastard that was produced when Constantine married two things that never belonged together.
So, there is the diagnosis. Civilization is not the best way for humans to function. We have not been able to abandon the sinking ship that is Western Civ since AD 313 when Western Civ and Christianity were merged. At that time, Christianity lost much of its identity to Civilization and Civilization lost much of its language to Christianity. The result is that the success of Christianity became inextricably bound to the success of Civilization in the psyche of average person. For that reason, “Christians” are unable to abandon Civilization out of the fear that they will have to abandon their faith as well. What is ironic is that the first Christians insisted that an individual “die to this world (Civilization)” in order to follow Christ. They died for a different way of life where everyone loved everyone else, every individual had a purpose, and leaders were know by their acts of service and did not benefit anymore by the success of the movement than anyone else. Often in recent history that earliest group has been accused of being a bit on the Communist side of things. They were nothing of the sort. Communism is just another economic structure inside the parameters of Civilization (that is why the USSR looked a lot like a poor, gray version of the USA by its end). They were something far more destructive for American Capitalism: They had abandoned all hope in Civilization altogether. They were a tribe.