This is the prologue to my short story called THE BREAKDOWN. I know it's a little "heavy", because it tries to pack a lot of things into a few lines. But to sum it up...We need to stop and listen to the words of wisdom.
Probably all men share the same level of intellect, but not all their civilizations are successful. It is Man's natural need for self-preservation, and the mechanism of survival-of-the-fittest, that causes him to grapple with his environment, and even against the impositions of other men. Intellect has much to do with the making of a civilization; and adaptation is a mechanism that sustains it and advances it. Civilizations can be adversely affected by some conditions that are often deviations from the normal. Problems may be environmental, disease, or population related. Man's lack of adaptation is often his downfall. Adaptation relies heavily on intellect.
How does the floating, wind-blown Dandelion seed, happen by chance, to land on fertile ground, after being blown around and soaked with rain? For animals, it is a sperm cell's energy which propels it to be the first to the egg. Also, there are random encounters and bumping around, which are a factor in its success. It is energy, and luck, but not intellect, that allows a plant seed, or a human, to take root, and begin its maturation and life cycle.
All newborns are savages. They are a "blank slate". Newborns have to be trained into their culture. The training can be gentle, or brutal. The training is intended to teach the survival skills needed in their community. Training can produce a gentleman in a suit and tie, who can contribute to social and scientific advancement. On the other hand, it can create a mass of combative, dysfunctional deviates, who participate in a culture that owes its success to preying on the labors of other human beings. There are variations, of course. A single community can contain a range of people from a brute to a Shakespeare.
If a newborn's training is somehow flawed, or incomplete, then a civilization contains within itself the seed of its own destruction. It does indeed "take a village". What code does this "village" live by? Is this community up to the task? Will the father teach the son?
The accumulation and transfer of knowledge is key in training new generations. Otherwise, each generation would have to burn up its energy "re-inventing the wheel". Whole repositories of accumulated wisdom, history and experience have been destroyed in the past. Ancient libraries have been burned to the ground, and civilizations have crumbled.
America's continuance isn't guaranteed. Some say "we've gotten out of worse messes". Others say "our laws can handle this". But is there a tipping point in the fall of a civilization, that no amount of optimism can prevent? Many civilizations have decayed and fallen in the past. America would be arrogant to think that it is an exception.
What will you do, as your civilization falls around you?