When Western Civilization began to form at about 500 AD((Western Civilization does not include Greece or Rome. Those were civilizations based upon slavery, a very different model.)), it was full of purpose. In particular, it was devoted to bringing the light of Christ into the world: to overcome the ancient darkness and to replace it with righteousness.
But please don’t imagine that when I say “bringing the light of Christ” and “500 AD,” I’m talking about the reign of the Roman Catholic Church and the “Dark Ages.” First of all, the capital-C Church didn’t exist at that time. The Rome-based church had just lost the sword of the emperor in the West. There was still an emperor in the East, but he ordered the church around more than did favors for it. Furthermore, the Rome-based church had serious competition from Arian Christianity and lesser competition from a host of smaller versions.
Second, the popular idea of the Dark Ages is mostly a myth. 500–1000 AD was a terribly rough time for rulership, but it was a good time for farmers. As historian Peter Brown noted:
[I]f anyone was happy in the early Middle Ages, it was the peasantry. Freed at last from the double pressure of landlords and tax collectors, they settled back to enjoy a low-profile golden age.
Whatever we might say about their specific beliefs, the people of early Western civilization were devoted to something… something supremely good. Their new civilization had a goal. It had purpose. There was something for everyone – rich, poor, old, young – to work for. And the civilization they created produced more benefit for mankind than any other civilization in human history, and by a huge margin.
Fast Forward to Today
What does civilization in the West hold as a goal today? Is there anything we can really point to?
At best, the “leaders” of our hyper-political age claim to serve “freedom.” But what does that really mean? Can any of these leaders define it clearly? Do they even try?
Freedom, in the modern political context, simply means stasis: what we have now, without end. In other words, it’s propaganda for the maintenance of the existing regimes.
So, what are the West’s goals? For the rest of the world to acknowledge our greatness? To force them into our image?
Where I live in the US, a “politics almighty” culture has divided the populace in two, the goal of each half being to defeat the other half. After the other half is defeated, they suppose, the magnificence of life will prove that they were right all along… hooray for us! This is not only juvenile, it provides no civilizational goal whatsoever. But all through the West this type of mindset, or something resembling it, reigns.
Politics of course is strictly parasitic. Bricklayers and nurses and farmers produce; politicians skim and punish. Politics literally cannot produce. And without production, there is no forward movement for a civilization.
Residues of Purpose
Some purpose remains of course. Young people usually want to mate and reproduce, for example, and all of us want to live in comfort. These, however, are limited goals. They neither satisfy nor motivate beyond their limits.
And then there are the dark goals of status, power, and lust for the sake of lust. (Think Harvey Weinstein, his many protectors, and many like them who’ve not yet been exposed.)
For a civilization to thrive, however – and for limited goals to have real force behind them – big goals are necessary.
Have you noticed the falling birth rates in the West? (And this with sexual images being pumped into everyone’s life 24/7.) Did you know that the same thing happened as Rome declined? Have you noticed it in an aging and purposeless Japan?
While I can’t prove this, I can say with some assurance that these things substantially result from a lack of purpose… from having no compelling vision of the future.
Have you noticed that religious people still have babies? And the more religious, the more babies? Religious people, you see, have some sense of purpose in their lives. As a result, they believe in the future and embrace it. The purposeless people around them tend to hunker down and enjoy whatever they can on their way to the grave.
A few of you may have noticed that young people in the new world of cryptocurrencies are tending to have babies. These people believe in the future too.
I could go on, but I’ll jump to the conclusion instead. And that is this:
Western civilization no longer has any purpose, save for self-congratulation.
Please understand this situation is perfect for those who are strip mining our civilization: the states who skim away half our produce; the corporations who, in partnership with the states, skim most of what remains; the pharmaceuticals, academia, central banks, and Wall Street. All of these thrive when people lack an outside standard by which to judge their actions. The victims live inside a bubble maintained by the strip-miners and cannot see outside of it.
With no purpose, there is no view to the outside.
Islands of Purpose
While Western civilization in the overall has no valid purpose, there are islands of purpose springing up in it. I’ve written often of the cryptocurrency movement, which is, very clearly, a rising island of purpose. Beyond the value of cryptocurrency technologies, there are scores of thousands of people who have become devoted to the principle of decentralization through them. These people have gained a purpose: constructing a better, decentralized world.
Likewise homeschoolers, whose goal is not only to escape centralized schooling, but to populate the earth with better children. This also is a worthy purpose. And there are others.
What Happens Next?
Wherever you see people suffering to live a better way, you’re seeing islands of purpose rising in the midst of a purposeless culture dedicated to itself.
It will take time to see what comes of this. If these islands grow and eventually converge, Western civilization will renew itself. This is what “should” happen.
As the status quo culture is seen as purposeless and barren – and as the new islands are seen as dynamic – emotionally healthy people will leave the moribund way and join the life-embracing way.
The status quo and its profiteers remain as obstacles of course, but their deceptions and distractions are starting to fade. Their ability to call forth violence remains, but even that rests upon the automated compliance of the masses, which may not endure.
So, please find a deep, meaningful purpose for your life. To live without it is to waste a precious gift.
* * * * *
A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:
- I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
- Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
- There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
- Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.
* * * * *