Society in recent days has come a long way from what it used to be. About 2000 years ago, there were clearly defined roles for every member of the family. Men were expected to fend for their families while wives stayed at home taking care of their children. There were very few professions to choose from and the cost of living was quite low. (Forbes, 2007)
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Arguments for western civilization
Western civilization has brought about a lot of changes in the fields of medicine. Centuries ago, it was impossible to treat a variety of diseases; adults and children died from illnesses that were not very difficult to handle. Operations were done crudely – without anesthesia, children were not immunized against preventable diseases and many conditions were left unchecked. A case in history is the Black plague of the twelfth century.
This plague started in the continent of Asia and then spread to other parts of the world including Europe. This plague killed close to eighty million people all over the world. Europe was particularly hit by this pandemic century after century until the eighteenth century.
This plague diminished their population size until the continent’s social structure was dramatically changed. But after western civilization, people who were born with certain conditions could get help. E.g. there are spectacles for those with eye problems, operations are less painful, common diseases like malaria, TB, measles can now be prevented or even treated. There are artificial limbs for those without legs and many other advances. These activities have all served to improve the quality of life today.
Back in the olden days, messages were transmitted through slow and unreliable forms. These included; messengers and direct meetings. This meant that people had to wait for long periods of time before they could receive feedback and message content was frequently distorted. Communication has been greatly improved through western civilization. The landmark was the printing press that was discovered in the great Renaissance.
This led to numerous volumes of books landing in the hands of many; also information was stored in a way that was fast and easily accessible. There were about fifteen million books that were printed during the Renaissance. Before that, there was the master punch which was in use in 3000 BC. Bars were imprinted with designs then they were used to stamp images onto templates. It took too long and messages were very difficult to convey.
But due to the giant leaps in technology, it is possible to convey messages to someone who is halfway across the world. The introduction of mobile phones allows people to interact even when they may not be able to meet. It is also easy to move from one corner of the world to another. Planes and other aircraft have made it quite easy. The advantage of this is that it is now possible to exchange ideas with someone who one would never have met if society hadn’t advanced. This means that people can conduct business internationally, ideas can be shared and global society is getting unified. (Forbes, 2007)
Western civilization has also brought about a number of changes in the field of nutrition. This is because new innovations have been created and food is now more diverse. Back in the ancient days, it was quite monotonous and people ate because they had to live. Sometimes, they did not pay attention to their body’s requirements and ate whatever they could find. In the I6th century, it was common to find people suffering from infections that had arisen from eating rotten meat.
This was especially so after feasts like Dudley’s feasts in 1575. This meant that these people suffered from nutritional deficiencies like marasmus, scurvy, goiter, etc. All this was due to misinformation on the subject of nutrition. With the advent of western civilization, people have realized what their bodies need and they now have the choice of living healthily through proper diets.
Roles in society
Western society has brought about a revolution in society’s role. Back in the ancient days, society had a very firm line regarding what members could or could not do. Women were considered homemakers and could no take part in some male-dominated activities like horse riding or politics. Even leaders were not elected as most of the systems were monarchies. People were ruled by kings and queens. These leaders were born into their roles and even if they oppressed their citizens or demonstrated their weaknesses, it was impossible to eliminate them. People had very little democracy and could not participate in decisions that affect their lives.
This led to a low-quality life and a lot of unhappiness. But thanks to western civilization, leaders are elected by the people. Those who do not perform are thrown out and replaced with more competent ones. It is also possible for women to venture into fields that previously male-dominated. It is not an uncommon sight to see ladies in top CEO jobs these days, presidents, engineers, and technicians. This means that members of society can exploit their God-given talent without fear of retribution and can achieve fulfillment in their lives.
Back in the Roman Empire during the middle ages, a monk called Thomas Aquinas wrote about 21 volumes about how women should be unsubordinated and that they were inferior. He was one of the most influential forces at that time and his ideas were shared by the majority. In medieval times, one could get punished for simply being a woman. This was common because most of them were accused of being witches.
Arguments against western civilization
These same changes that have occurred after civilization have also brought a lot of problems in society. These problems will be examined below;
The flipside to western civilization is that there is some progress that has reduced people’s health. People have now become dependant on drugs even for the slightest ailment. This has lead to weakened immune systems and addiction. Surgeries have also been done unnecessarily thus endangering the lives of patients who were not even sick in the first place. This applies to cosmetic surgery. Some forms of treatment have been known to have very serious side effects. (Forbes, 2007)
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Because it is possible to communicate with distant people at the comfort of one’s home, society has developed individualistic tendencies. This means that relationships have faded as human contact has now been minimized.
Convenient communication has increased the number of con artists and schemers who use these same technologies to extort. In the transport sector, accidents have increased and millions of people lose their lives as a result of either road or aeronautic accidents. Open paths of communication have made borders within countries blurred thus causing heavy interaction amongst people. This means that some communities that are small in number can easily get absorbed by others and they can therefore lose their sense of identity. People without a sense of identity have low self-worth and esteem. (Forbes, 2007)
Western civilization has introduced a lot of unhealthy foods to society. More than half the population of America is obese and there are numerous patients that suffer from nutrition-related illnesses. These include high blood pressure and diabetes. All these problems were nonexistent in the olden days. This was because foods were natural, low in cholesterol, and high in fiber. Fruits and vegetables were a common part of their diets and that was the reason why people in the ancient days live longer. Lifespan has dramatically reduced after western civilization.
Roles in society
Because society doesn’t have clearly set boundaries, it has become increasingly difficult to have strict morals. Society has disintegrated and the close family unit that has been responsible for holding society together has fallen apart. Children now have fewer role models and this has hampered their psychological growth. This is the reason why many of them are resulting to drugs or teenage sex to find self-worth as the family unit no longer provides that these days.
Western civilization has improved people’s lifestyles by making things convenient and easy to do. But at the same time, it has made people less humane and more focused on themselves. Moral fiber has deteriorated. In my view, western civilization is a wonderful thing but problems arise when it is taken to the extreme. (Forbes, 2007).
Forbes (2007): U.S. Workplace Not Family-Oriented. Web.