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Walla Walla, WA
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Are you Civilized?

May 4, 2023
Nathan Becraft

Reissue: Originally Published February 12, 1998

Nathan Becraft

Reporter: "Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization?" 

Mr. Gandhi: "I think it would be a good idea. What do you think of when you hear ‘civilization?’ A game perhaps? It seems to me that most of us think of our standard of living, infrastructure, art, literature and scientific achievements as ways of viewing our civilization. Or perhaps we see it as a higher plane of understanding. Intellectual and moral development at a social level can also apply as components of civilization. 

More important, however, is whether our civilization is civilized. Civilization as we think of it does not exist. Civilization cannot exist beyond the individual level; we can only be civilized as a state of mind. By my more abstract definition, are either American society or Western Culture as a whole civilized? People are universally so partisan, opinionated and argumentative that I have trouble considering any group of more than one or two people civilized. 

We can be so kind and caring as individuals in small groups, but when we try to do something collectively, we seem to either trample on each other or some of us buckle under and let other people do practically everything. 

The various structures or accomplishments we see around us are only symbols of civilization. 

Most of the things we see were either made in periods of social stability or, like some of the supposedly greatest achievements of mankind, were gained by the exploitation of some chosen majority or minority of people, such as the Pyramids, Great Wall and almost all of the transcontinental railways. The foundations on which we stand have been built 

On the compacted bones of millions, or by the apathy of others. But supposedly the end justifies the means. What we see today supposedly atones for the suffering of the past, as well as the ignored suffering of today. We have things to point at to show how far we have come. 

Have we really changed all that much? We too often hear of the barbarity of the past, but today we simply have the convenience of destroying people and minds from miles away with our cruise missiles, smart bombs and H-bombs. Now we can just sit and watch the TV and change the channel if we don't like what we are seeing or doing, while somewhere out there flesh melts into dust. We are hiding from who we are instead of struggling against the evil sides of ourselves. Life is more convenient and that is how we, in the Western world especially, prefer to delude rather than seek the truth, which is our God-given commission in this world. We are to seek the truth, and when we encounter falsehood, to struggle against it. Do something with the vessel that God has given you; fill yourself with truth. We must be civilized to each other with the help of mankind and those we truly trust. God created us good. Now we must show God and ourselves that we have at least tried to be civilized. 



  1. Portrait of Nathan Becraft. Mask photo. 
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