Civilization, It’s A Fickle Thing


The illusion of righteousness is the shield and sword of all accidental tyrants. And civilization, well, it’s the accidental tyrant that causes the rest to cower. As we look back into our history, the apex of all human achievements at communal progress, we call civilization, the taming of our most primal aspects, the flattening out of all the topographical descriptions of individuality. We distill and pasteurize, or in the very least and as is most often the case, simply trample out distinction until all that we have left is the illusion of identity plastered onto a two-dimensional cutout. A homogeneous existence that is practiced and expected. And the soldier plays the role of hero, that we can continue the charade of purpose when we have abandoned purpose in exchange for the comfort of conformity. We come to believe that the martial prowess of a people is commensurate with their greatness, wreathing ourselves in fetishes of patriotism and national pride; neatly dividing humanity into false identities of us and them. And war is decoration day, proof that our civilization makes the greatest argument, that we are the pinnacle of what is possible. But progress is merely the steady flight from life and the simple joys of love and family, of home. Progress, after a fashion, is a flight from simplicity, a symptom of our disease, of the inability to simply be.

But civilization is a fickle thing, making of poverty a crime and killing a trade. Constantly, we’re reminded that the big picture justifies the unjustifiable. But that’s precisely the problem, because when we delocalized the horror, pain and unmitigated destruction that is war, that is the argument between power and right, we allow ourselves to be divested of our culpability. The “big picture” disfigures all the little wounds and injustices, the limitations of the human soul to withstand it all with placards; Patriotism, The War on Drugs, The War on Crime, The War on Terror. These are the stained glass that we put up to conjure a different vista for our consciences when we gaze beyond our cloister of individual satisfaction and plausible deniability.

Soldiers that die satisfied with the delusion that they are defending their country, their people, make a mockery of any who take up the banner of patriotism, who in turn misappropriate the soldiers death as a vicarious act of heroism. Many lay claim to the notion that we can honor the soldier yet hate the war, the conflict which requires his existence. This too is a mockery, an indolent fabrication to deny ourselves of the discovery that we live in paucity. In truth, very few in the world we know fight for their neighbor, for the right of self determination. Instead, the battle is waged at the behest of those who secure themselves behind desks. And it is these selfsame actors who send those in their employ, and make no mistake, the modern military is a profession, a necessity of industry, to secure “peace” that business might continue unhindered by such things as national sovereignty and the right of people to create a government of their own choosing. And to shore up the support of those who know nothing of the machinations of power, they, the unruly masses, are inundated with the message that we are exporting freedom and giving them democracy, as if that is a thing that can be given.

Society is humanity, with all its flaws, with all it’s messy moral conflicts, sorting itself out. But the imposition of civilization, which we dole out like so much candy to children, is a Pandoras box filled with cancer and wrapped in shiny paper. It’s a pandemic designed to transform life into a commodity. And those wise enough to refuse this gift of civilization are deemed outcasts and backwards, to be marginalized until they strike out with the only means left to them, and we call them terrorists.