The recent tragic collapse of the apartment tower in Florida reminds us that life is fleeting and man’s creations are generally pretty-short-lived.
But the physical collapse and the death toll (expected to be near 200, I understand) is really minor, tragic as it is.
Societal collapse is far more insidious and dangerous, and in the long run, has a far higher death toll. It isn’t just the “autonomous zones” and protests/riots in places like Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere.
Consider this story (a couple of weeks ago) from the Police Tribune, discussing how at least two major retail chains in California’s Bay Area (San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose) are giving up in the face of uncontrolled crime. Particularly in the moral and societal cesspool called San Francisco.
California, of course, is not alone in this. As we’ve pointed out in other commentaries, it is a problem all across the Fifty States – or at least those States with urban core areas. Even in smaller core cities, like Rapid City in South Dakota, there are signs of deterioration. Physical as well as cultural and moral and political. Buildings which are empty – often abandoned – in bad need of repair. Streets and sidewalks needing replacement, or at least some TLC. Utilities failing or being hastily repaired just in time. Utilities plants just barely able to function with increased demand and lack of trained personnel and resources.
But the spiritual (are the mental and moral and cultural) are superior to the physical. These things are showing the signs of decay that in turn results in physical decay.
Because our mental state – and health – impacts our physical health directly. Our mental state and condition is related to our spiritual and moral state. I am not claiming that a person must be religious, or believe in Creator God – or any god outside their own mind – in order to be sane and healthy. But humans need and must have some foundation, some spiritual root and some sense of moral value and behavior to avoid mental illness. At least as commonly viewed by the majority of people.
Without SOME foundation, people act irrationally and their actions damage society. Of course, SOME foundations do cause irrational behavior on the part of individuals. Which in turn make their society either so dysfunctional that it collapses. Or so intolerable that a large enough group (always a minority) responds by tearing the society – even the civilization – apart. It may be an internal group or an external power – or a combination. But they seem to succeed, sooner or later.
Examples of that abound in human history: the perverted nature of Canaanite societies in the time of Joshua; the incredible state of Carthage before its destruction in the Punic Wars; the later corruption and decay of the Byzantine Empire, the perversion and gross immorality (by their own standards) of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, the Germanies in the 1600s, pre-Civil War England, and pre- and post-Revolutionary France. And we also, skipping back a few centuries, have the bad examples of the Azteca and the Anasazi, with their cannibalism and more. In modern times, we can look at India, China, Czarist Russia, and perhaps even Cambodia and Cuba and Venezuela.
It is NOT a matter of right versus left, or even of liberty against tyranny. It IS a matter of freedom, of liberty with responsibility, and of honoring the Zero Aggression Principle (or, if you prefer, the Golden Rule of Jesus of Nazareth). Of dealing with people in a fair (and therefore honest) manner, of having and acting not out of compassion but out of love – the phileo for which Philadelphia was named. NOT attempts to mandate and enforce moral actions, or punish immoral actions, but rather actions to defend against and stop such actions when those actions are a threat to you or others – NOT to the person doing them.
To put it another way, exactly the opposite way that governments and society seems to “function” today.
Modern (and ancient) governments always act as though the problems of a crumbling, collapsing polity or society are only physical. They ignore (and fear) the spiritual, the moral, and the fundamentals of humans relationship with each other. Forcing people to fix the broken windows (or government doing it), to clean off the graffiti, and so forth does NOT address the problem: these are symptoms. And they lead to more crumbling: consider the very recent case of the Dallas man who fought with police SWAT over grass that was “too tall” per the City codes.
You do not get free people to live better lives and be more considerate of one another by mandating what they must do – yet that is what government and other institutions (churches and schools and civic organizations) seem to be best at.
Free people who are taught the truth about liberty and experience freedom as they grow up and become adults generally do follow the ZAP and the Golden Rule in dealing with each other. Not all do, of course, but often this lack of good behavior (both “good works” and not doing “bad works”) is corrected by family, friends, and neighbors in a kind and gentle way. Failing that, ostracizing them (isolating and withdrawing) can work as well – very few people are such problems that we need to arm ourselves in self-defense and defense of others. But our willingness and self-discipline in doing so is essential to reinforce more peaceful attempts. And to enforce the sometimes necessary action of expelling them from our society: either through Coventry, exile, imprisonment (with restitution) or execution.
NONE of which are being tried today. Is it a surprise that society – like the cities and other physical things – is crumbling into decay and collapsing in corruption, greed, and lust for power?