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Inevitable Failure

Failed Societies

Portrait of a Failed Society

Posted on July 13,2010

Doomed for Failure: Did you ever think about it? Every attempt at maintaining a society has failed. Some were good for a while, but historically, all drifted into the dustbin of history. The question that needs answering is – “why?” We as humans can’t stand success. The models we create that promote security and happiness cannot and will not stand the test of time because of human nature.

Lazy at the Core: We are lazy, aggressive, jealous, greedy, and dishonest. These character traits do not lend themselves to any model for a society seeking longevity. Almost every religion has tried in vain to set guidelines for a way that people can live a rewarding life, but as time propels forward, societies reject morality. Morality becomes a casualty after a society achieves some measure of success. People cannot help themselves. After all the hard work it took to successfully build a good society, complacency and self-indulgence takes over. Ruin becomes inevitable. There is an old saying that goes something like this, “Building the house is interesting, but after toiling to get it built, life gets boring.” A bored society disintegrates.

Nirvana: Humans are not capable of creating a Shangri-La type of Utopian society. When the going gets good, we turn inward and spend our energies on the piddling. A goal-oriented society that maintains a national purpose is unifying. Nothing is more destructive to a society than to be adrift without a national purpose.

A Political System: The success or failure of a society hinges upon its leadership, not on any type of government. Bad leadership can wreck any political system, while good leadership can help a political system flourish. Other than being conquered, a society's failure is always the product of disunity – not because of any type of government established by a society. For instance, even in a democracy, a complacent, non-challenged population will opt for their own self-interest every time without regard to how it affects their society.

Leadership Dependent: Those entrusted with leading a society have special responsibilities. A society entrusts its leaders with maintaining traditions, and seeing to it that the society stays united. Wise leaders set national goals to maintain unity and promote social cohesion. However, there is a danger if the successful society relaxes after the rush of success. Bad leadership will allow the malaise of contentment to set in as opposed to good leadership that would keep the society challenged and working together as a unit.

Goals: John Kennedy ignited the country when he announced the goal of putting a man on the moon before the end of the 1960’s decade. A goal-oriented society is a successful society. As a society, we met Kennedy’s challenge, and felt a tremendous rush of pride. The cold war ended because of the leadership of Ronald Reagan. Decades since those victories have passed without a national purpose, in the process, we lost a lot of our national spirit. Instead of unity, we turned inward and created divisions over frivolous issues.

Poor Leadership: A democracy suffering from poor leadership creates divisions as the disparate groups try to fill the leadership void. Issues that are essentially local issues are elevated to national status and in the process, weaken the empowerment of an individual. Once an issue leaves the local government and becomes a national issue, the control of the issue is wrested from the affected local governing process. The local governing process has just surrendered their ability to control the issue. Is there anything that would yield a different result? Yes, local issues need to stay local. Local issues that become elevated to the national level become the pork that keeps career politicians in office. The absence of good national leadership opens the doorway for all would-be politicians to make a name for themselves. These local issues become their launching platform for prominence.

Divisive Issues: Other than the force of war, nothing cripples a society like division. Divisions come from many quarters.

Political Division: We create divisions when a minority subgroup champions a new or unpopular issue. In a democracy, ideas of all stripes deserve a hearing before the appropriate governing group. If the issue is acceptable, it must pass legal muster.

Perfect World: If an issue comes before the legal system for which there is no legal precedent to make a decision, the legislative or appropriate governing body (local, state or federal) should address the issue and create a legal framework for it. The creation of a legal framework by our elected officials gives to the courts a basis for a decision and maintains the concept of governing with the consent of the governed. Too often, our courts choose to bypass the system and create law from nothing other than personal biases.

Diverse Cultures: This planet we call home has hundreds of different cultures. Each culture, steeped in its own language, customs, and traditions have some form of a governing process. We all belong to one of these diverse groups. However, these groupings are not homogeneous. All of the large groups are comprised of smaller subgroups that have different interests and beliefs. Leadership in these diverse groupings may take the form of a group of elders, king, dictator, group, or groups of representatives, a national religion, president, or prime minister. The common thread running through all of our societies is that there is a leadership structure.

Products of Geography: Geography, more than any other reason, is the shaping tool for most cultures. The geographical location dictates dress, food, climate, and resources. Every culture spawned had to develop ways to live within their environment. The different regions produced societies that traditionalized a way of life for survival. Mixing the cultures into one big homogenous group is not possible. Whenever translocations happen, translocated people have to adapt to the ways of their new host. People from warm regions will find that their traditional garb may be inadequate for some temperate locations. Diet, language, and institutions also vary between the different cultures. But when translocated people manage to assimilate themselves into the new society, they will find acceptance by the host society. Failure to assimilate into the host society creates divisions within the host.

Divisions: Divisions within a society cause a society to fail. Inadequate leadership creates those divisions. Lately our democracy has lost its national purpose and powerful infighting is prevalent for the reins of power. It is not helpful to the society for any political party to bypass good leadership for a person who looks and sounds good. A society can remain strong only by supporting candidates with proven leadership qualities. A society needs leaders who understand the necessity for keeping the society from fracturing over purely political themes. It is of paramount importance to keep localized issues local. It is much easier for a citizen to influence an issue locally than nationally. That is why the constitution seeks to empower the individual rather than a bunch of elitist in the central government.

Conclusion: Why is the study of the different historical societies important? It is important because the key to preserving our society might reside in past failures. It is not a particularly hopeful quest because humans are what they are - lazy, aggressive, jealous, greedy, and dishonest.

"A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something."
- Wilson Mizner


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