|Senility is the gradual decay of understanding, or loss of wisdom.|
Community Has A Life Cycle
The evidence of history suggests that a community is a life form as it shares the same life cycle of any other living creature; it is born, matures into a prime then declines into senility. The difficulty is understanding how a thing generated by the minds of people behaves in this fashion.
Start Of The Community
Like a language, a community arises insensibly from the accidents of existence. People living similar lives close to each other will develop a common language that reflects their shared understanding. This is the start of a communal understanding whose ability and scope will be determined by the character created by their shared set of values, as well as the subsequent experiences of the community.
The Personality Of The Community
The shared understanding will be reflected throughout the community by the way it is organised, its laws, manners and customs. As experience increases, its wisdom will grow and this must be reflected in a growing refinement of its organisation, laws, customs and manners. But all of these improvements must first be made in the minds of the citizens, who then give them reality by their exertions. So the nature of a community's institutions must reflect the general understanding of its citizens. Thus, for example, the relationship between child and parent must reflect the relationship between citizen and government, because how a child relates to its parents is how it understands authority.
The vitality of the community will be determined by the general harshness of their existence, for a strong community to rise it needs unselfish citizens and these appear to be created by difficult conditions of living, as selfish citizens readily appear when life is easy. Though if life is too hard, the communal mind may be stunted like the social development of the Australian aborigine, which did not get past the Stone Age.
Rise To A Prime
A vital community must embark upon an ever-improving cycle of gaining wisdom and strength until it reaches a prime. And that prime will occur when the citizens start to feel comfortable and safe, relaxed by the wealth and power enjoyed by their community. Then the community will start to decline as its citizens enjoy ease and become self-satisfied and lazy.
Enervated By Wealth And Safety
The perils and dreams that inspired the conditioning of previous generations of children fades; the need for imbuing offspring with the founding values of the community, along with a commitment to the common good, recedes and becomes forgotten. The citizens become careless and lax, and this shirking of duty pervades the whole community, and it begins to slide into impotence and dementia —senility.
The Selfish Spiral
This argument is founded upon the nature of humans. Every infant is born selfish, believing itself to be the centre of the universe. Communities can only promote themselves by training their offspring to overcome their basic urges and become dutiful citizens. This process must not only educate successive generations in values and traditions, but also must constantly reverse the children's initial instinct to be selfish—teach virtue. Achieving this result requires hard work and restraint from parents; they have to overcome their own desires to indulge their offspring while using discipline to instil a code of behaviour. (See "What Decides A Person To Be Moral Or Immoral") Failure can only create selfish children who become selfish citizens. And these citizens will have less regard for the good of the community and less motivation to limit their private desire to indulge their own offspring, and inevitably rear offspring even more careless of the community. And these in turn will repeat the lessons of indulgence to worse effect. Indeed the very traditions and habits that aid creation of disciplined children will be abandoned and the structure of the family must insensibly change. The rule of the home will slowly degenerate from clear and strict, to confused and indulgent. (An influence that in western civilization has replaced the rule of a stern autocratic father and his obedient lifetime wife, with that of an indulgent mother, who shares her bed with a series of male favourites, none of who can safely assert their authority over progeny or temporary wife.) And this misrule must be repeated by the government of the community, who will indulge, instead of command, its citizens.
The Start Of Communal Senility
When enough spoilt children become citizens, their joint influence changes the mode of the community from unselfish to selfish, and this reversal is not hard to ascertain as it is marked by a degeneration of public morality (see Law Of Reverse Civilization). Denying private desires for the benefit of others, which is the nature of morality, is a contradiction of selfishness. Such self-imposed restraints begin to be discarded immediately the majority becomes selfish.
The First Symptom Of Communal Senility
The first symptom of communal senility is when the populace start to abandon traditional mores. Widespread discarding of virtue in favour of vice marks the change from a vital to a venal society. Comfortable lies replace harsh truths and egotistical obsession begins to displace concern for the common good. Communal vigour then starts to atrophy, creating an ever weakening and deluded society.
The selfish cycle is irreversible because the appearance of a selfish majority means the community has lost its attachment to its morality; the source of its strength and understanding has gone. The rational and disciplined society has become irrational and undisciplined. The communal understanding has died, only the appearance remains, but eventually even this will wither. The traditions, habits and laws, which gave form to the community, will slowly be discarded by each subsequent generation. The result will be increasing communal dementia with diminishing communal strength—a society floundering into increasing senility.
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