Great Britain lost its empire after World War II. The Soviet Union lost its empire as a result of the Cold War.
Europe lost its ability to be the standard for which other nations around the world aspire to be. The West in general and the United States in particular are finding it harder and harder to model and foment the democratic ideals that have been the brand of free societies.
World events have accelerated time and technology is offering the challenge of living life at the speed of light. America’s new generational majority is accepting that challenge and everyone else is confused about how to conduct our affairs in this new environment.
It is very evident that many in this country are resorting to taking shortcuts and some of those shortcuts are very dangerous to our democratic fabric. Democracy is hard work and takes the building of a national consensus that many would do without.
Part of my career has been spent taking students to study the most popular ancient civilizations in North and South America. Like all historical streams in this regard, these civilizations had a development phase that sought to bring a people together under a common standard, a classic period that featured the best that civilization could offer and a post-classic time of decadence that brought a gradual loss of energy and ability to reinvent themselves leading to their demise.
When visiting monuments and pyramid buildings that were examples of a civilization in decadence, I would take time to share with students prominent characteristics of this condition. My favorite example were the stairs.
The ancient Meso-American calendar round consists of 18,980 days which equates to 52 years that was determined by an interplay of a 365 day solar calendar and a 260 day gestation calendar that marks a period from conception to birth of a child. At the beginning of a new round, all altars were covered with new constructions as a sign of renewal.
During the classic period, the base for the pyramid stairs was expanded in order to keep the same angle and proportion as the old stairs being covered. During the post-classic phase, there was a tendency to take shortcuts by keeping the same base in constructing new stairs thus making them steeper and steeper with each new round.
Taking shortcuts about something so important demonstrated decadence and diminishing faith in a belief system that memorialized this important ritual. In assessing our culture and the democratic culture today, one notices that it is riddled with shortcuts taken especially by our political leadership.
For example, it could be that without checks and balances afforded by the Constitution, perceived enemies of the administration including members of the press, political opponents and other people such as out of favor minorities would be in jail, voting would be permitted for only those that agree with the power structure and cities and states would be funded by the federal government according to how loyal they are to Washington.
The concept of dictatorship found in developing countries and banana republics is finding its way into the developed world and can be found even in the United States where the winds of authoritarianism and ruling by personal whim threaten the structure of our institutions. This is clearly the face of decadence rearing its head.
History is calling for a new generation to lead a renewal of America based on respect for our liberty and democracy. We need new faces for a new world.