Our civilisation is in desperate peril and the reason is the lack of capitalised proper nouns.
Of a certain kind: Truth. Honesty. Courage. Fortitude. Integrity. Probity. Wisdom. Justice. Temperance. Mercy.
and on and on…
In the past they would be written with a capital letter as the first letter wherever they occurred in a sentence.
Now they are hardly ever written, much less written with a capital.
Never written with a capital.
Which says volumes about the nature of our society, our civilisation.
And I think the root cause of this can be traced far back. Back to the spinning jenny. Or the dawn of the industrial revolution.
For before machines man’s business and man’s war was conducted man-to-man and man-to-nature.
Either confrontation frequently called for the display of some of these capitalised proper nouns.
They came to be happily capitalised because people gave them credence, recognised their worth, their import.
Back in those days something and (nowadays) trivial as a bad tooth could be the cause for unmitigated agony until the nerve rotted and died. Courage. Fortitude. Good Heart. We’re much needed. Were the only medicine.
Back in those days men met on the field of battle even more frequently than today, believe it or not. Apparently armed conflicts have actually declined.
And in those days when they met, they met, face to face. In a melee. In the real world with all its unfairness. A small man may easily find himself facing a very large man, mightn’t he? A single man find himself surrounded. A swordsman facing a pikeman – two pikemen?
War was terrible war. Courage was all important. ALL.
Children from the cradle were educated in the importance of these ‘virtues’ or necessary strengths or abilities or attitudes.
Out of that ‘rotten’ ground of warring primitive people without medical knowledge or aid, the majority embedded in a pyramid social structure that made them more or less slaves – out of that living hell grew notions of ‘Justice’, ‘Strength’ , ‘Courage’ etc…
They grew because they were so blindingly obvious of importance.
The notion of ‘Love’ even grew.
Come the Middle Ages Courtly Love and Knightly Behaviour became widely known, accepted, admired, emulated.
Now that ground has gone.
That fertile soil. That bed of disease, dirt, oppression, savagery, man and women alike thrown onto their own inner resources throughout their lives.
A life wherein you might well wish to believe in a benevolent god who would come and help you or at least direct you on a safe path.
Humans in peril. Humans stressed and tormented. Coming to know, to recognise, to admit and value those human qualities that helped them when there was not other help.
Humanity coming to know humanity.
It was going well.
A plant of knowledge grew and has grown to this day. That plant helped to give birth to everything we have today.
Underneath our laws and systems and whole social organisation lies those understandings of human necessary qualities that were forged back in those primitive days.
But the impetus has gone.
The past is now too far away.
Too ‘other’. A past without machines is too ‘other worldly’. It doesn’t ring true. It seems to have no relevance to today.
So now human beings are born into a milieu that has to cognisance of these things. A world that knows them not. Values them not.
A world that doesn’t teach them.
You can’t look at a printed page today and see ‘Courage’ in the body of the text, mid sentence, capitalised.
Nor ‘Honesty’, nor ‘Truth’, nor ‘Sacrifice’, nor ‘Love’.
No human virtue proper nouns are capitalised any more.
For they are not valued any more.
And so our children grow in the absence of any human values.
‘Grow up and educate yourself and get a good job’ is the sum of all their education.
The same advice could be given to a drone, a machine, a clone, a robot.
An example: how many teachers would even be aware of the existence of Kipling’s ‘If’ ?
Then how many teachers could help a boy become a Man?