The slow decay of civilization is marked by an increase in the demographic of its population that complains about the slow decay of their civilization. But civilization is a bit like life; it’s a fatal disease that knows no beginning. “As soon as it’s born it’s dying” to misquote Iron Maiden (who’s probably [mis]quoting someone else, but maybe not). Yesterday was not any better than today. There was no Golden Age, only the Gilded Ages of the past: A gold edge on a dull self-help book stating the obvious in different words. Moral decay and loosing family values is the nature of humanity. Every generation fears the next; youth is always frightening to the old, especially when the youth finds better, faster, ways of loosing their youth. Innocence is best exemplified in the cruelty of children towards one another and the sheer stupidity of not looking where one steps. Innocence is lost by stepping on ones self and ones closest friends. Stupidity is reached by blaming your footsteps on the turning of the world beneath you. There will always be stupid, selfish people in the world and some of the time you’re one of them. This is the decay and from decay new growth sprouts, knowledge is sometimes gained, but usually only enough to realize that the decay starts anew. And so, those venerable hoary headed elders, with their lost innocence and knowledge gained, learn to cry out, like their parents did so long ago, “our civilization is in jeopardy!” and they site the moral decay and lost family values, morals and values that their ancestors labeled as decayed and lost.
No one likes things to change, especially when they feel good about the status quo. It’s a cruel twist in the human chain of DNA to make us so resistant to change. Lucifer tried to change things, so we made him fall and attributed to him all things terrible. The King of Change is the Prince of Lies. But without change, there is stagnation. The decay stops, nothing grows. Knowledge is stopped. The greatest lie is that change is bad. Change is inevitable and neutral. How humanity embraces the change is what defines our character. This is why science and art are the crowing achievements of humanity; they invite change. In science, when a theory or model is found lacking in its explanations, it can be modified, adapted, to the new information. And when theories or models are found to hold up to the tests, we can use that information to make changes to our world, for good or ill. Art calls to us, inviting us to look at our world in different ways, sometimes pleasant, sometimes terrible, but always engaging its audience, whether in music, paintings, writing or theater. Bad art is not art at all, only entertainment meant to subdue our consciousness to its will and be forgotten. Good art changes us, and we carry with us its effects long after the exposure.
But of course, civilization is just decaying; humanity is loosing its family values and morals. So none of this really matters. After all, only 250 years ago, Sade was arguing that “The callousness of the Rich legitimates the bad conduct of the Poor” because, in part, the punishment for robbery then was the same for murder: death. So everyone’s to blame…stupid humans.