Are We Approaching The Rock Bottom Of American Civilization?
Updated: Jun 2
The events of recent days have illustrated the very desperate state of affairs in our nation. Deadly police force, race based threats in Central Park, vigilantes killing an African-American jogger.
In the past similar occurrences resulted in local protests. Ferguson, MO and Tulsa, OK, in recent years to name just two examples. None of these events escalated to a nationwide scale and none resulted in any lasting changes for the better.
So what is going on now?
In the hopes of gaining some perspective a look into the recent past:
In 1994 I had the wonderful chance to work on an unforgettable documentary adventure in Honduras, "Die abenteuerliche Suche nach Ciudad Blanca" - "The Incredible Search For Ciudad Blanca", for Spiegel TV. In the course of filming we interviewed archaeologist E. Wyllys Andrews IV from Tulane University in Copan. I will never forget his statement about the collapse of the Maya civilization: "All civilizations collapse. There are no exceptions".
Common factors that may contribute to societal collapse are economical, environmental, social and cultural, and disruptions in one domain sometimes cascade into another. In some cases a natural disaster (e.g. tsunami, earthquake, massive fire or climate change) may precipitate a collapse. Other factors such as a Malthusian catastrophe, overpopulation or resource depletion might be the proximate cause of collapse. Significant inequity and exposed corruption may combine with lack of loyalty to established political institutions and result in an oppressed lower class rising up and seizing power from a smaller wealthy elite in a revolution. The diversity of forms that societies evolve corresponds to diversity in their failures. Jared Diamond suggests that societies have also collapsed through deforestation, loss of soil fertility, restrictions of trade and/or rising endemic violence. Source: Jared Diamond.
Further work in the mid 2000s with group behavior specialist and synergist Chris Alexander led to the following information: "No team, organization, society or country can survive without a sense of common purpose and shared destiny."
I covered the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles, at the time anger boiled over due to the not guilty verdict in the Rodney King case. Cops had beaten him savagely. It was recorded on video. And the jury found them not guilty of abuse of power and excessive violence. Los Angeles burned, looting occurred. The protests stayed mostly local and much soul searching ensued once the situation calmed down.
So what is different this time?
Back in the early 90s and prior we didn't have social media, internet or smart phones. It was rare that violent abuse ended up being filmed. We probably had the same amount of abuse. It just didn't make headlines. Neither did the likes of Amy Cooper.
Homeless Crisis: we have tens of thousands living in tents on the streets in Los Angeles alone.
We live in the midst of a pandemic with over 40 million newly unemployed citizens who now find themselves without health insurance and hope.
The middle class still felt respected nearly 20 years ago even though quality of life and salaries have been in decline since the 70s.
CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978.
Typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time. Source: Economic Policy Institute.
Collective student debt reached $1.41 trillion in 2019.
Public education funding is declining.
Just a small collection of facts that indicate a dire situation.
So what can we do?
In addiction treatment it is common knowledge that rehabilitation can only be successful once the addict hits rock bottom. Reaching the absolute lowest point offers the chance to climb back up if one does the work.
Can we as a nation - all of us! - reach that point and be willing to work hard to make changes so we can all recover?
We as a people hopefully have reached that point. None of the other uprisings have ever resulted in systemic change. The first order of business: get back to a government that serves the people. Get corruption out of politics.
There is one non-partisan organization that aims to eliminate corruption. Represent Us.
Tagline: We bring conservatives and progressives together to pass anti-corruption laws across America. Join us.
We’ve already passed 114 Anti-Corruption Acts and Resolutions in cities and states across the country.
Our problems are overwhelming and seemingly endless. We can start with one step, in our community, to start the process of fixing the system.
Let's hope we make it.