The Story of Decline pervades much of today’s social discourse throughout the Western world. For many of us, this story has become so ingrained that it appears self-evident.
But The Story of Decline has not always been a popular story. It was not the story of the explorers setting out to the Americas or immigrants arriving on Ellis Island or the astronauts on Apollo 11. It was not the story of the Enlightenment or the Industrial Revolution. It is not the story of the “American dream” or China’s economic emergence over the last several decades.
These moments were all a part of an entirely different story that dominated much of the Western world throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries: The Story of Progress.
The Story of Decline tells of our fall from wholeness, harmony, and purity into decay, corruption, and wickedness. The Story of Progress is in many ways its inverse. It tells of humans’ (or Western culture’s) rise from the lowly savagery of our origins to modern society’s civility, refinement, and moral goodness. It is the story of the ascent of humankind from barbarism to civilization.
It goes something like this: