weather icon Partly Cloudy

Will America be the next great civilization to fall?

As I watch and read the news reports of the shooting of the police officers in Compton, California, my faith in humankind’s future has doubts creeping around the edges of my thoughts.

Two police officers were shot in cold blood as they sat in their police vehicle. The attack has been characterized as a “revenge attack against officers for recent police shootings against black men in LA.” Equally disturbing are the news videos that showed protesters blocking a hospital entrance where the police officers were being treated, shouting things such as, “death to police” and “kill the police.”

These sickening acts appeared to be endorsed by a city manager, who posted on Twitter that “chickens come home to roost.” Lynwood City Manager Jose Ometeotl, who has since made his Twitter account private, posted the troubling message with a photo of civil rights leader Malcolm X — and a rant that said, in part, “the fact that someone randomly opened fire on deputies is to be expected.”

Is this how a supposedly civilized society behaves? We often express awe at acts of compassion from wild animals. We fervently follow social media stories of elephants helping each other by warding off predators and by helping their young cross streams or climb out of watering holes. There are numerous accounts of dolphins helping swimmers by chasing off sharks and giving “rides” back to shore for stranded swimmers. These types of stories receive hundreds of thousands of social media hits. And yet, humankind, who is supposedly the most “civilized” of all creatures on earth, shows an alarming tendency of promoting and embracing violent attacks on each other.

Compassion is a trait we share with some animal species, but we share very few other characteristics. What scientists say makes us unique is that humans possess many cognitive abilities not seen in other animals, such as a full-blown language capacity as well as reasoning and planning abilities. Researchers at the City University of New York and Stockholm University have discovered that humans have a much better memory to recognize and remember sequential information. “The data we present in our study indicates that humans have evolved a superior capacity to deal with sequential information. We suggest that this can be an important piece of the puzzle to understand differences between humans and other animals,” says Magnus Enquist, head of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution at Stockholm University.

You would like to think that the uniquely human traits and abilities of reasoning, planning, and memory retention would help us move away from senseless violence and destruction. It hasn’t worked out that way so far. It is said that history repeats itself, and our historical record is filled with the rise and fall of great civilizations. The Roman empire ruled the world for almost 1,300 years until it collapsed in 476 AD. The end came at the hands of foreign invaders, but the collapse began well before due to internal struggles. Several of those struggles were from economic troubles, the rise of the Eastern Empire, overexpansion and overspending, government corruption, political instability, and the loss of traditional values. Power-hungry government officials and the military had little or no loyalty to the empire. Instead, they focused on carving out their mini-kingdoms and eventually turned on the Roman government. Sound familiar?

Is this our future too? Or will we learn to move away from these extreme acts of hate-filled violence and find a better way to come together to resolve our differences? Sometimes we need to agree to disagree but do so without destroying homes, businesses, and lives. Until then, I worry that history will indeed repeat itself, and we may be the next great civilization to fall.

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
DAN SCHINHOFEN: Let’s talk about the peaceful transition of power

For nearly 250 years the United States of America has had a peaceful transition of power in our government. Of course after Lincoln was elected the Democrats seceded from the Union, but other than that, when one party lost power in the House or Senate or the executive, the position of president or speaker of the house has been handed over without bloodshed or rancor.

TIM BURKE: My favorite season is fall, but not this year

The change from the summer to the fall season is always one of my favorite times of the year. In a normal, non-COVID-19 world, children would head off to school, our youth would be participating in fall sports, and many local events would be held for our community to attend.

DEBRA J. SAUNDERS: Lockdown hazard

The coronavirus debate is about much more than masks.

DEBRA J. SAUNDERS: Mike Pence’s calm conservatism

With his no-drama demeanor during the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Pence showed America how Trump would look if he acted like a politician: like a president.

Is this ‘cartoon existence’ really living?

As I was binge watching the last season of “The Blacklist”, I was surprised it only had 19 episodes. What was stranger was a few minutes into the 19th episode they cut in with cast and crew telling us that they were in the middle of filming when COVID-19 restrictions kicked in. After making sure to tell us to be safe and other platitudes, they then went back to the show, but half of it was cartoon and the other half live action.

Letters to the Editor

Is no electoral college moving toward no constitution?