Copyright 1995 Don Benish
The Fall of Human Civilization: A Simplified Version
by Don Benish
Ten men sat in a circle, voicelessly pounding rocks together. There was no point to this activity. It was just something to do. The time had come for the end of all civilization and only one question remained to be answered.
The first man asked it of his companions. "Here we sit, ten thousand years after the invention of the electric light bulb and our civilization has decayed to pounding rocks together. What went wrong?"
The second man answered, "It was because of capitalism. Humans forgot brotherhood and became enamored of dog-eat-dog competition. The almighty buck became our sole motivation. The things that should have been done in the name of humanity were ignored because the profit margin was too low. We lost our idealism because ideals are not always profitable either. Once we gave up our ideals, we ceased caring about what happened. We became too jaded to maintain our civilization."
The third man responded, "That's not the reason. Socialism was our downfall. We came to believe that no man can succeed outside a group. We lost our initiative and our creative spirit. Individuality was stamped out and was replaced by a fear of failure. Because the only things that can't fail are those things that never get tried, we got stuck in a rut and could only sink deeper into despair."
The fourth man spoke up, "I believe that the reason was guns. We had too many weapons available. Humans are a naturally violent species and with free access to weapons, it was inevitable that we must kill ourselves off. Just look at the waste caused by the arms race. Weapons only breed more weapons. Having a gun is no protection if it only creates more enemies."
The fifth man disagreed, "Wrong again. It was gun-control that destroyed us. The Government decreed that only they should legally own weapons. The irony is that the criminal class then acquired a new business to make even more money. Because the law-abiding public had become defenseless sheep, corrupt politicians and police had no problem destroying what few freedoms remained. When crime did not abate as had been promised, new laws were passed that were even more onerous. What had once been government by the people and for the people became government by the government and for the government."
The sixth man declared, "It was abortion that caused our ruin. Humans decided that it should be acceptable to declare arbitrary portions of humanity as non-humans so they could be killed without conscience. It was inevitable that soon other portions of humanity would soon be added to the list, making everybody a potential non-human. People could be declared a burden to society and therefore they were not humans either."
The seventh man demurred, "You are mistaken. It was the loss of privacy that lead to our downfall. When society demanded that people give up control of a simple bodily function, it was inevitable that the individual would soon have no rights at all. The right to choose is the most precious freedom of all and the religionists sought to extinguish that right for all of us. It was to be their way or no way."
The eighth man stated, "I believe it was the willingness to go to war. Rather than reason out problems between nations, humans would have rather fought. We forgot how to negotiate and reach a peaceful settlement. Warlike thoughts and ideas washed over us from every quarter. Entertainment became equated with war and fighting. Technological advances blossomed or died on the question of how well they worked to kill the enemy. "
The ninth man objected, "Mindless pacifism was our downfall. We lost the will to fight for what was right. Aggressive bullies were able to push their neighbors around because they knew no one had the backbone to defend themselves. The word peace became associated with frightened submission. We lost the sense of who we are and what we hold precious, because we believed nothing was sacred."
After a long moment of silence, the tenth man stood up and stared at his fellows. "You all have it wrong. The downfall of human civilization started on November 17, 1968 when NBC interrupted the football game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders to show a rerun of 'Heidi'. The human race could not withstand such a heinous assault on its sensibilities. To interrupt a football game for a movie about a little girl was unthinkable and we lost our minds trying to accept it."
One by one, the other nine men shook their heads in agreement. The tenth man was right. That moment marked the beginning of the end of the human civilization. Now they had the answer, but it did them no good. One could only hope there was a Hell, because at the bottom, the very bottom, would be the network executive responsible for the end of everything.