Skip to comments.Bill Whittle: Chapter One The Web of Trust (chapter one of An American Civilization book)
Posted on 07/25/2006 9:50:54 AM PDT by Tolik
There was a time and being born in 1959, I am old enough to remember it when the idea of Civilization needed no explanation or defense. Everybody knew what it meant. Civilization was tied to another term, now likewise mocked, and that term is Progress.
Progress was the idea that society was moving forward, upward, toward higher goals better medicine, faster transportation, the brutality of hard labor replaced by stronger, then smarter machines; abundant energy, increased wealth and leisure: all of these things were greatly desired, and society was proud to provide them, proud to show them off in World Fairs and Expos and in the mythology of the movies.
Now progress and civilization are ironic terms, in sneer quotes, muttered with that pathetic, bored tone of cynical nihilism started by the narcissistic brats that I have been ten years behind for my entire life. Today, I try to exercise and watch my weight only so that I may live long enough to see the last of these radical hippies die in their sleep.
The entire concept of Civilization has been so deconstructed, and vilified, that by having the audacity to defend the ideals of Civilized behavior Your Author has been called a racist (nope I happen to have African Ancestors!), a repressed homosexual (please I have two pairs of shoes!) and even a potential cannibal! (What happens in Papua New Guinea, stays in Papua New Guinea.)
...Why all the hatred? Why are so many people so ashamed of the most amazing Civilization that has ever existed on the face of this planet? What the hell have these people been taught to make them think such transparent nonsense?
...So when we talk about the entire idea of civilization, a simple glance at history shows we are not talking about race at all. At various times in history the leading civilization has been black, yellow, brown, or white, and the barbarians lined up to tear down those civilizations have been of every color as well. So to make claim that saying one culture is civilized while another is not is somehow racist is patently ridiculous on its face. Anyone who claims otherwise is trying to shut down the argument because they know they cannot win it on facts and logic which to some of these people are also racist. But facts and logic dont give a damn what they think facts and logic exist whether they like it or not. So do I, and I dont give a damn what such people say, either. This intimidation tactic has silenced benign, well-meaning people for too long. How would a real Nazi respond to being called a racist? Hitler, dude, youre like a total racist! Thats a compliment to goose-stepping sons of bitches. Thats a badge of pride for them. Only decent people are deterred by such rhetoric and that is the entire objective. It works. But not here. Not anymore.
Its not the hardware, its the software. Its not race, its culture.
Thats what I believe.
There is a full-court effort to tear down civilization these days, to make ridiculous even the very idea of civilization, and that is a fight worth rising to. Because the unseen rhizomes of civilization the impenetrably vast and intricate connections that exist out of our view, beneath the surface of our blinkered daily existence produce so much that is good and necessary and completely taken for granted that to lose it would be to lose what makes us fully human.
And I dont want that to happen. Do you?
...It is the unseen, anonymous people that make this whole thing work. Right at this exact instant, there are men and women making sure that you have clean, safe water. That your aspirin is safe, and works as advertised. That you can pick up a can of food in any store in the country and eat whatever is inside it without a seconds worry about its danger. Armies of people, millions of people, get up and go to work every day to make sure that all of the transparent, unnoticed and unsung strands in this Web of Trust function.
And even when you are all alone, in the wild, as far from the Web of Civilization as you can possible be, it is still there with you: in a body free from the parasites and diseases that have killed legions unimaginable, in a body free from pain, from the deformity of unset broken bones, in titanium hips and pacemakers we give not a second thought to. It is there in the mental bridge, the bridge only the designer sees as he looks across a chasm, before the first rivet is driven. Civilization is in our hearts when we stand around a water cooler with people from all across the globe: ancient enemies, perhaps people our ancestors have fought with for centuries and millennia, and who we now replay Saturday Night Live routines for before heading back to our cubicles to refine a little more order out of the chaos.
So mark these words, for this is not something beyond our control:
Civilizations fall because people bitch and complain when the electricity is off for fifteen minutes, and never give a thought to the fact that it has been on for their entire lives.
FR discussions of Bill Whittle's essays is here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=billwhittle
Thanks for all of your other pings.
Another good one. Sort of reminds me of this one:
The only way "progress" is not mocked, is if one is a "progressive," in which case, "progress" is made when one destroys progress.
Glad to clarify.
Add me to your Bill Whittle ping list.
What's interesting is that my entire generation has been overshadowed by the whole Woodstock myth. Yes, there was a concert at Woodstock, and yes a lot of people showed up, but the majority of people my age who were there were upper middle class and rich college students who wanted to be hip and be 'involved' in something. Unfortunately, they were also in the position to get into influential areas of the culture when they finished college and started their working lives. As a result, the media has portrayed the entire generation born in the early to mid-50's as the hippie generation, when only a minority of them actually lived that lifestyle and retained those attitudes.
Excellent! Thanks... Let me get a fresh cup of coffee :~)
I love Bill!!
Thanks for the ping!
FTA; "Today, I try to exercise and watch my weight only so that I may live long enough to see the last of these radical hippies die in their sleep."
BUMP for Bill Whittle!
Then he gave me the best piece of advice I have ever received.
Kick its ass, he said. And that was it.
But that was all I needed to hear. God damn right! Ill kick its ass!
I saw an obvious (to me) comparison to this story: Man (Freeper kanawa) stabs bear to death Just one of many human stories about facing a challenge, and doing what needs to be done. :~)
They deserve posterity which is steadfast, faithful, respectful, and grateful. All who live after, are posterity. It is for us to pass respect down to the future.
bump and ping
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