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The inescapable realty: the older generation dies.
hope: the young generation inherits the basics and improves on them.
Society must recreate itself every generation.
Way 1: educate.
Every child in every generation learns
from the past. In traditional West Africa, societies depend on training schools.
Kids are taken to “bush schools”—initiation societies—to be given the basic
secret beliefs of their people. After a graduation that includes powerful rites they’re considered adults. Photos and story here. (On the linked site, click down to "Where No Vehicle Could Go.")
"Forerunners" of the initiation school parade
Today in West Africa, formal education competes with “bush
schools.” Both are effective in renewing West African societies.
You may see lessons
here for our large-scale societies today. What are the "initiation societies" at
work in your city, your country? Do they give kids the outlook they need to
face the challenges of our national and global civilizations? Does your locale have one or more resettlement programs for immigrants? Example in Portland. If yes, support it. If no, start one.
Way 2: transmit healthy social traditions right in the home.
Societies, even enormous one like China, depend heavily upon micro-societies
and families for social teaching. Home schooling is the basic rule, even if your kids attend class outside the home.
Consider one family example: the Toynbees of England. A mother
birthed a child, Arnold Toynbee, in 1852. This kid obtained a great British education
and Arnold’s father and mother transmitted great values to their child. He was so challenged by meeting society’s response to the industrial
revolution that he died at age thirty from overwork in research, writing and
speaking. His work helped England devise a saving response to the industrial
Arnold Toynbee via Wikipedia.org. Image in public domain.
Next generation in the Toynbee family: the great Arnold J.Toynbee, the nephew of Arnold, who diagnosed the reasons for the death of twelve
great civilizations. He found that civilizations had died from inadequate
responses. He taught the absolute importance of appropriate response to civilizational challenge.
Microcosm: an American family's role in social renewal. My American Dad,
Clarence Reeck, introduced me as a teenager to Englishman Toynbee’s “challenge and response” theory. In
this and many other ways Dad educated me for citizenship, exemplifying how appropriate
grand-scale social renewal rests in the microcosm of society—the family.
Do family traditions provide easy answers
for social renewal? Not really. No. Arnold J. Toynbee himself visited Hitler in
person and approved of his fascist program to make Deutschland great again because
he thought Hitler to be sincere!
So: Way 3: beware: theorists and leaders alike may present
their own false responses. Test all prophets. Avoid their mistakes. Don’t
fall for “sincerity.” Leaders can be wrong: sincerely, they really can. We, the
followers, must beware.
Today, a president is promoting a program to “make America
great again.” In that regard, Trump is right on. Every aging society needs to
re-create itself and America is no exception.
Let's apply Way 3, Beware: Is Trump’s social solution adequate? Not so far. He hasn’t
even articulated his guiding values.
For most of us, the values that guide any course correction
in America are: “liberty and justice for all.”
Let your family, your kids’ classrooms, and your voting be guided by time-tested values and goals.
your family, our schools, our scout troops, our teams, our temples and mosques to
find appropriate responses.
Create the future and do not accept retreat behind physical
and psychological walls as an effective solution.