The ends of the world as we know them – suicidal tendencies of our civilizations.

So many articles (here, here, here, here, here, and here) try to address the main questions in our world today. The many attempts to explain what is going on in our day and time is really like treading water in an empty pool… in 2005 the editors of the New York Times choose to promote a book written by Jared Diamond called “The ends of the world as we know them.” Later on Diamond won the Pulitzer prize for his non-fiction book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel.” In 2005 this same Diamond published “Collapse; How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” (Check his lecture at the University of CA) which became like a historical bible for many students helping to describe history in a new perspective.

I came across some of this information as I recently started to read (again) about the decline of civilizations. Because let’s be honest; we are in the middle of the decline of our (Western) civilizations… and, to quote a real expert on that: “There is nothing new under the sun!” Ecclesiastes 1: 9-10 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time”.

civilization

The fact is that history repeats itself… Therefore we need to learn from history. We are on the verge of a total new time of transition and will have to learn to deal and live with new facts and new life about, and in our world. Why? Because the worlds as we now know them will not be there in the near future…

During my MA in Intercultural Studies I was interested in researching the upcoming and fall of cities and societies. The main expert on this I found to be Arnold Joseph Toynbee (April 14, 1889 – October 22, 1975) Toynbee was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, “A Study of History”, 1934-1961, was a combination of world history, a meta-history based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global perspective.

Toynbee argues that “self-determining” civilizations are born (out of more primitive societies), not due to racial or environmental factors, but as a response to challenges, such as hard country, new ground, blows and pressures from other civilizations, and penalizations. He argues that for civilizations to be born, the challenge must be a golden mean; that excessive challenge will crush the civilization, and too little challenge will cause it to stagnate.

He argues that civilizations continue to grow only when they meet one challenge only to be met by another. He argues that growth is driven by “Creative Minorities,” those who find solutions to the challenges which others then follow.

While Diamond in his book from 2005 emphasizes the need to fight the environmental factors (which I don’t want to minimize) he agrees with Toynbee that “civilizations die from suicide, not by murder” when they fail to meet the challenges of their times.

I find these thoughts very challenging and provoking… It is like waling the tightrope; too little challenge will lead to stagnation, too much will crush us! However, the point of interest for me is to be part of the “Creative Minority” which finds the solutions to our challenges today!

Looking back throughout history (His Story = God’s Story) makes me dare to believe that the people of God, the Christians can be those minorities… as they have been throughout the history of our world. In so many ways and in so many cases history writers (most often male and part of the ruling majority) have silenced and hidden the accomplishments of the remnant of God’s people in their societies who were part of laying foundation and proposing structures and values which carried whole civilizations through the transitions of challenge and change.

I appeal to sensible women and men of God who are willing to pay the price to be part of this “overwhelming minority” which somehow, some way will be used to bring hope to a fallen and suicidal world as they in humbleness and soberness live out the fullness of life through Jesus Christ in this dying world!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

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