It is obvious that America is entering into an age of decadence. At the same time however, the 21st Century has brought, what I thought, was a gradual changing of the guard that would allow our country to regenerate in an orderly and deliberate fashion.
The potential to regenerate quickly is available to us because we are an immigrant country and our immigrant communities are increasingly other than European. That is important because it is Western Civilization as a whole that finds itself on a downward trend.
Many historians, anthropologists and others that study the cycles of civilizations and cultures will tell you that what we know as Western Civilization reached its apogee in the 20th Century and appears to be on a downward trend after almost 600 years as a major and growing influence in world affairs. This is the second time around for Europe and its offsprings as major purveyors of ideas, reason and the giver of value systems that color so much of our lives.
The first time is known as the Greek and Roman Civilization periods that began in the 8th Century BC and came to a close in the 5th Century CE. Much of what we know as classic, including the fundamental ideas of democracy in self government, were developed and nurtured during this important time of intellectual growth.
The 5th to the 15th Centuries CE mark a very difficulty period known as the Dark Age where so much of what came previously was dismantled or forgotten. The beginning of the European Renaissance (1438-1453 CE) represents the reembracing of classical concepts as basic building blocks for what is Western Civilization today.
America began as a colony of Great Britain and continued to receive European immigrants in great numbers into the 20th Century. Later in that same century however, there was an important shift in immigrant patterns that brought great numbers of people of color.
Also, the Mestizo/Latino, the step children of Spanish and children of Native America, cemented their leadership of most of the Western Hemisphere and emerged as the major non-European presence in American life.
The Latino community are among the emerging leaders expected to take our country to the next level. Although it has a clear path to the legacy of Western Civilization, the community itself, is not on the same cycle.
After 300 years as a voiceless colony and 250 years finding its way through the political streams in the Americas, the Latino community is poised to become a major part of the US leadership structure as we progress in the present transition. The problem has arisen however, that America’s downward fall has been accelerated by major attacks on its immigrant history, its diversity and the institutions that protect our democracy.
The pandemic and its political fallout has revealed deeper fractures that fosters distrust all around us. President Trump as a central figure in these actions and as a victim of his own disregard for our institutions is a prime example of that faster downturn.
The immediate challenge to our country is to find a way to repair our institutions at home and our leadership abroad. We must also find a way to develop common ground with each other so that our painful generational change can be accomplished successfully.
To a large degree, America is the product and leader of Western culture and civilization. At the same time, its diversity and immigrant tradition can lead the world that nurtured it out of its decadence.