What has become of modern civilization? What meaningfully remains of it?
Daily headlines feature a panoply of horrors causing a panorama of misery. Even at this late stage, the professional commentariat remains captive to political correctness instead of correctness, suffocating in its own journalese, able but unwilling to pinpoint the culprit.We, the growing number experiencing an acute case of tragedy fatigue, can only wonder what more must occur to spur people on to concerted exertions, to mount a robust resistance, to eschew passivity in favor of proactivity.
The present clash of civilization and barbarism is a clash of cultures, value systems reified in societies and in the hearts and minds of their respective members. Simply put, those who value life and liberty are being plagued by those who value slaughter and subjugation. The distinction is not one of degree, but an ordinal difference. Indeed, these lifeways are antipodal and immiscible, and only one will emerge triumphant.
How did we get to the point where our drive to survive is so eroded? How is it that our basic will for self-preservation has proved pliant when it should have been marmoreal? Was it a function of ignoring premonitory events, harbingers of catastrophes to come?
Something much profounder than this paved the road to our current mayhem, namely anomie.
When much of modern civilization chose secularism over religion, it tossed out the baby of morality and ethics with the bathwater of dogma and doctrine. When multiculturalism and cultural relativism came to the fore, identity and heritage were sidelined. Transparently-bankrupt, postmodern ideologies and a jejune culture of victimhood and grievances fostered by self-absorbed, single-interest groups continue to becloud public discourse and honest discussion of our most urgent concerns as a collective, of the clear and present dangers in this epoch. What all this amounts to is self-evisceration on a civilizational scale, and its consequences form our new normal, our anxious and uncertain status quo.
Why? Because, as it turns out, anomic means anemic. If we stand for nothing, we lie down before anything, trampled underfoot as fodder by ruthless brutes.
If we accent our narrow identity politics at the expense of our mutual values, we facilitate and precipitate our common demise.
This is precisely why we find ourselves embrangled in a life-and-death struggle with jihadism, with fanatic mass murderers and their bloodthirsty ideology inspiring lone wolves and activating terrorist cells amid human hives, before our very eyes. From their perspective, western moderns are maundering nincompoops too inept and weak-kneed to defend their lives and their interests, a largely accurate assessment.
A psychosocial metanoia, a new awakening of old wisdom, is necessary to counteract the perils of our era. We need to be aroused from our self-induced slumber and become once again a percipient society alive to actuality and alert to threats. We need to acknowledge that, like all human-made products, cultures are sometimes superior or inferior. Not all values are life-affirming or inclusive or liberating or democratic; not all societies venerate freedom, equality, compassion, or peace.
Free-thinking and free speech are at the front lines of the battleground. The obvious can no longer be unvocable: we need to speak candidly and lucidly. We need to get real.
With regards to everyone's favorite Religion of Peace, we need by the candle of clarity to identify the Qur'an as the mother of root causes, importuning Islamic clerics for scriptural reinterpretation and emphasizing the exigencies of exegesis, so that fallible articulations cede to productive misreadings as part of a humaner hermeneutics. Only then can meaningful reforms ensue in earnest and respectful coexistence be afforded decent odds.
As for the degenerate savages slaying innocents in their bedrooms, in their synagogues and churches and mosques, in their cars and streets and groceries and cafés and restaurants and nightclubs and concert halls, we need to resolve that we are at war and restore safety to our societies, committing to zero tolerance for terrorism, not merely fighting back but going on the offensive with more vigorous policies of extrusion and extirpation. Whatever measures have been enacted thus far have evidently not sufficed. Inputs must change for outcomes to change.
As sentient beings with agency and autonomy, we already fully possess the ability to arrest the international anarchy haunting our times and to secure civilization for ourselves and our scions. But it means retaking the initiative.
This we must do immediately if not sooner. The alternative is simply more of the same, a ticker tape of ghastly calamities, until in the wake of us all lie little more than strewn remnants: overgrown sanctuaries, toppled columns, headless statues.
The Jerusalem Post Customer Service Center can be contacted with any questions or requests:
Telephone: *2421 * Extension 4 Jerusalem Post or 03-7619056
The center is staffed and provides answers on Sundays through Thursdays between 07:00 AM and 14:00 PM and Fridays only handles distribution requests between 7:00 AM and 12:30 PM
For international customers: The center is staffed and provides answers on Sundays through Thursdays between 7AM and 14PM Israel time Toll
Free number 1-800-448-9291