Civilisation: It all depends on how you look at it

“55 years ago most of London was either slum or bombed out; food was strictly rationed, work was harsh and subhuman, the notion of British Empire was but a mere fantasy of the upper classes.”

“55 years ago most of London was either slum or bombed out; food was strictly rationed, work was harsh and subhuman, the notion of British Empire was but a mere fantasy of the upper classes.”

There is no such thing as ‘civilization’-there are only signs of it. When the White Man first arrived in Africa he looked around and saw a pitiful sight; he must have asked himself where the ruins were the written language, astronomy and art was. Our ancestors must have made an excuse that they hadn’t come round to it but were going to… eventually.

Yet today, in England you can hear savage tales of women collapsing and giving birth on the pavement while hundreds of people walk by; half of them not seeing her, too deeply engrossed in their own lives and the rest assuming an ambulance will pick her up or just too disgusted to even try and help.

One wonders how, in one of the most “civilized” nations on Earth, a 13 year old boy becomes a father- his parents bragging about their bad parenting skills, selling their story to the media.

Roman fathers took their little children out for picnics at the Coliseum where they watched people being mutilated and eaten by lions- and the Romans are called the best “civilisation’s.” There is no such thing as civilization but only a certain standard of living- a certain threshold we consider civilized.

Rwanda is seeking this standard of living and has set up all the necessary institutions to achieve this; effective taxation, social security and benefits. When you think of veterans, widows, survivors, and orphans who stand to benefit, it is heart warming. But there is a down side to this.

The UK you see today hasn’t always been so prosperous. 55 years ago most of London was either slum or bombed out; food was strictly rationed, work was harsh and subhuman, the notion of British Empire was but a mere fantasy of the upper classes.

And yet… this was Britain’s greatest period of civilization; neighbours shared, orphans were taken in and there was no crime because there was nothing to steal.

Winston Churchill won the war but was thrown out of office because the Labour government had the “ultimate” package; cradle to the grave care, free schooling, free health, and free money if you are out of work.

Suddenly Churchill’ victory seemed blasé, “Yes Winston you defeated Hitler but what have you done lately”, was the popular sentiment.

As Britain industrialised in the post-war period, the masses migrated in search of work; family ties were broken, the nuclear family replaced the extended family, and add to this a welfare system that replaced community ties and you had the seeds of social breakdown.

As Rwanda we will face the same challenges. As we industrialise people will then move around and self-reliance will become the norm- but we must avoid the pitfalls of western nations.

Good healthcare means people will live longer and, as the population ages, gradually setting a population time bomb, where the old outnumber the young.

Nations are like people; Rwanda is young and bright like Brazil, China, and India; young guns waiting to take over, Europe is a gang of the old men hanging on; America is still in its prime but in danger of being by-passed by the young guns.

You wonder where the Romans went wrong……empires turn to dust and ruins. As our prosperity increases, people will demand more of the state- and this is where all nations divide.

Some people will want the state to solve all their problems while others will want less state intervention. Some will want higher taxes to help the poor; others will demand tax cuts for the rich to stimulate the economy.

More services mean more taxes, and these higher taxes will eventually stifle the economy in the long run. It is now that we should decide the extent to which the state should solve all our problems or how much of a role the private sector should play. This choice will either protect our culture of inter-dependence or destroy it .

When Cain killed his bother Abel, he stewed in his guilt and when he was asked about his bother he replied “Am I my brothers’ keeper?” The answer is yes

Contact: ramaisibo@hotmail.com

 

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