Culture is more durable that we give it credit for
Every day brings new evidence that the America we grew up in is slipping away. How can we prevail when the very foundations of the house seem to be attacking it?
Humor me in addressing this in a round-about way.
Imagine a place where rains come during the growing season every year like clock-work. The farmers live in tiny villages two miles apart. When the rains come they take their draft animals, oxen mostly, out to their fields which they plow and plant. They have only a short time window if the grain is to grow in the rainy season and then ripen with the first dry weeks.
Furthermore, imagine two villages...perhaps 10 miles apart. One village is devout and has exceptionally strong taboos regarding the slaughter of the draft-animals that the village economy depends upon. The other village goes through the motions but it is mostly for show.
Then, one year the rains do not come. The monsoons fail as they might once every five generations.
The less devout village eats all of their grain. Then they slaughter and eat their draft animals. Finally, they migrate to the city and join the swarms of beggars who are already there.
The more devout village also eats all of their grain. They move their draft animals around to find forage. They cut down trees and bushes to put leaves within their reach. They get a little bit of milk from the animals but not enough to sustain them. Many of them move to the city but a few hang on...eating weeds, digging up roots and losing much weight.
The rains come back. Those from the devout village who moved to the city...those who survived the crime and disease and lack of food (cities are no strangers to hunger) come back to the devout village.
Before the monsoons failed, there was BARELY enough farmland to feed the families who lived there.
After the monsoons failed there were vast tracts where entire villages deserted their farmland. It was now open to other farmers who had access to draft animals. That is, to people who had lived in the devout villages.
"But Joe," you ask "what stopped the less devout villagers from stealing the oxen and donkeys of the farmers from the devout villages?"
Some did. And the farmers who owned those animals hunted down and killed the less devout villagers who raided their devout villages. Theft of animals is a capital crime. Not every thief was caught the first time he stole an ox. But eating one ox will not get you through a year (or two) without rains.
The devout village was vindicated and their beliefs were strengthened. The less devout village ceased to exist.
Key point: The faith of the devout village is strong enough that it lasts FIVE GENERATIONS without obvious reinforcement. And even after that time, hungry people will have enough faith to choose starvation over killing what we see as hamburger-on-the-hoof.
Culture is stronger than we give it credit for.
Culture is holographic
Culture is holographic in the sense that tiny, distant patches of it contain enough information such that vast swaths desolation can be reconstructed by repeating the patterns within the patches, much like a crystal grows as atoms deposit on the lattice of the previously solidified atoms.
The term "holographic" is a funny word.
Women tend to recover from strokes more quickly than men do because their brains are more "holographic". Memories are stored in more places, in locations that are more geographically distant and there are more connections/associations between those memories. Because of that density of linkages, women can knit their "self" back together more quickly after brain damage.
I might be going out onto a limb here, but I believe that we could recreate 99% of the best parts of America with three documents: The Bible (both Old and New Testaments), The US Constitution with the Bill of Rights and Robert's Rules of Order. Those three "patches" of culture are enough that our culture could reconstitute itself and bridge the valleys of desolation.
Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations.
Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth,
from eternity to eternity you are God.
You turn humanity back into dust, saying, “Return, you children of Adam!
A thousand years in your eyes are merely a day gone by,
Before a watch passes in the night you wash them away;
They sleep, and in the morning they sprout again like an herb.
In the morning it blooms only to pass away; in the evening it is wilted and withered.
Then Jesus approached (them) and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”