Downfall of Civilisations
Edward Digby Baltzell was an American sociologist, academic and author. He became an eminent professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and was credited with popularizing the acronym WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). His work shed new light on the ruling elite of America, changing public perceptions of American society and history. In one of his writings, he says “The downfall of every civilisation comes, not from the moral corruption of the common man, but rather of the moral complacency of men in high places”. While it is widely argued nowadays that his own moral commitment shaped his assumptions about the nature of the social matrix and his research strategies, the essence of his statement provokes some measure of thought. He believed, and as many of us might as well, that whereas similar actions are perfomed by men and women of all cadres and social classes, those of people in places of power and position, do normally tend to mould the definitions around acceptable and unacceptable practices of society. Indeed, advocates of the devilish ideas of same-sex marriage, for example, knew this hypothesis rather well, and this is the reason famous and influential men and women, are to this day used as poster boys and girls to promote the regularity of this new form of union.
This quote also establishes immense responsibility on the shoulders of anyone who society regards as influential. While not limiting ourselves to the recently-coined term of ‘influencers’ mainly ascribing the actions of young individuals who are used by corporates to set trends via social media, influential people are well beyond the seasonal mesmeriation of the new breed of influencers. They are wealthy, well heeled and more often large family units, who society looks up to, for moral inspiration. They pick their success stories and inspect their failures, and learn from them. But more frequently, fanatics of such ‘role models’ usually rationalise even the negatives of their idols and successively adopt them as right moral behaviour. Unbenown to the unsuspecting crowds, most of these high-placed net worthy individuals are far from altruistic, and are themselves pursuing their own self-serving agendas of power and fame, while thoroughly enjoying celebrity status.
In their book ‘Factors of the Rise and Fall of Human Civilization based on the Perspective of Al-Quran’, co-authors Zaidin Mohamad and Basri Ibrahim (both of Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin), enlist the following factors derivative of the stories and statements of the Holy Qur’an, as those that bring down civilisations. In the coming series of ‘A simple thought’, we will try to examine each one of these separately to see if our own civilisation is imperilled by the presence of any of these factors.
In the meantime, if we are in any form of powerful position, let us return to base and invoke the protection of Allah (SWT) against the relentless whispers of Shaitan, the damned one.