Some of the best and most popular urban myths are those that encapsulate truth, but are somehow fictitious in origin or attribution.  One of my favs, which I received again this week, is the reference from the fictitious book, The Fall of the Athenian Republic, with the progression outlined below, normally attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler.

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."

I have a few quick comments to make about this.

1. We have a Representative Republic, not a Democracy

But it is entirely believable that a truly Democratic nation that votes for it’s own entitlements will eventually decline towards dependence on the state.

2. Apathy leads to more than just dependence – it leads to CHAOS

What really happens when people are complacent and apathetic is that entropy kicks in.  A people that lack the virtues of self-control, industry (hard work), honesty, fidelity, and chastity will create an external chaos that begs for external government, since they lack internal government.  The main reason we get bondage next is because chaos begs for military rule.

3.  Bondage means both internal (lack of virtue) and external (totalitarianism)

While sin is it’s own bondage, the chaos in the above step leads to external bondage because something has to be done to regain order and justice in society.

4. Spiritual awakening can help return us to the first stage

Decline of society is not a foregone conclusion, nor are we hopelessly doomed to "repeat history."  Already, there have been two "great awakenings" in the US, maybe as many as four depending on who’s counting.  These awakenings led to the abolition of some of our greatest faults, which could have led to the end of the country.  Out of these movements came both the abolitionist and social justice movements.

We can only hope for an awakening which will awaken us from the sins that threaten to plunge our society into chaos – we need to repent of, among other things:

  • killing our unborn
  • unfettered materialism and disregard for the poor
  • state-sponsored solutions to poverty that avoid asking recipients to be responsible and accountable
  • gluttony (Americans are FAT)
  • raping the environment in the name of the economy
  • sexual promiscuity and perversion
  • disregard for the marriage bond
  • selfish ambition and intellectual pride
  • lack of love for spiritual truth, and it’s opposite evil, lack of graciousness

Man, I’ve got work to do!