Saturday, January 29, 2011

On Civilization

I was thinking the other day about the word "civilization." It has this kind of grandeur, this connotation of advancement and intelligence.

And then I was thinking about all the great civilizations, of Greece, of Rome, of the Mayans, Aztecs, Chinese empire, of the Egyptians. Of Britain, the U.S. And it occurred to me.

What's so civil about civilization?

All of those so-called civilizations are founded upon a premise of power. Of warfare, weaponry, and the ability to kill and oppress those weaker than you. I guess... well, it doesn't seem all that civil to me.

And so now I'm thinking, is this really civilization? Is what we are living in right now really the best we can get? And if so, I think I'd rather live a backward life than in a "civilized" life. At least then, I wouldn't be contributing to the problems that I see around me, that I study, every day.

We call ourselves 'civil' because we think we're smart. Well, tell me this - when did risking the survival of every species on Earth through climate change get considered to be smart? When did creating a weapon that could blow entire provinces to smithereens get considered smart? When did selfish, independent pursuit of money get considered smart?

Ew. I feel like having a shower. Those things are just... well, uncivilized!

At the end of your life, when you're on your dying bed, and someone asks you why life was valuable to you, what are you going to say? That you owned the nicest car, that you made the most money, that you killed a few soldiers in war? NO! Of course not! You're going to tell them that you loved, that you made the most out of the relationships you had, that the time you spent on Earth was to make a difference. Or, at least, that's what I hope to say.

There's certainly got to be something that "civilization" is missing. Of course, maybe civilization should simply not be considered "civil"ization at all. It's just... well, it's just what it is.

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