A speech exploring the notion of societal collapse – by Reece (age 15)


The Western Roman Empire, the Egyptian civilisation, the Mayan civilisation, now nothing but remnants in a history book, kept alive through the constant reiteration of historians – the upholders of history, yet also the key to building the foundations of a society. Now where are there examples of societal collapse within society today? The definition of societal collapse is: the fall of a complex human society, which could be gradual like the fall of the Western Roman Empire, or abrupt like the fall of the Mayan civilisation; however, the causes of their collapse, albeit from different time periods, stem from the same problems.

The problem is that there are a number of people within society that are complacent when it comes to doing ‘their part’. Not only this, they are often reluctant to define what ‘their part’ is, what their duty within society is. Perhaps it’s to earn more money to put back into society? Perhaps it’s to help society in any way they can? Or perhaps it’s the opinion that the rest of society is none of their concern: their only concern is to put money into their own bank accounts, to help themselves in any way they can. It is this portion of society, that, rather than helping society to progress in the right direction, are actually forcing society to regress.

Image 1 (Reece's speech)

This could be perhaps due to their blinkered and insular view of the world around them, blanketing them from the harsh realities of life that they obliviously pass each day, as they go about their daily lives. However, it could also be due to a lack of motivation and belief in life, because without motivation or moral principle, there is no strive to better the world around you. Yet without belief, there is no world to better. Everything we touch, see, hear, taste, learn, smell, feel is all a testament of our belief that life does exist – without it there is nothing. ‘Mors certa, hora incerta’ or ‘Death is certain, its hour is uncertain’ is an Italian phrase that accurately describes Nihilism: the rejection of all religious and moral principles, the belief that life is meaningless. This means that Nihilists live their lives believing that life is meaningless, knowing that their deaths are inevitable, yet wait all their lives until that ‘uncertain hour’ – living, not existing. Thus, Nihilism being one of the main causes for our swiftly approaching collapse in the foundations of a moral and just society.

Image 2 (Reece's speech)However, not only are historians able to uphold the moral foundations of society, but so are revolutionary figures within literature, like J B Priestley, the playwright of ‘An Inspector Calls’ a morality play intended to make audiences question Capitalism within society. Within the play, the Inspector claims that ‘We are not alone. We are all members of one body’ suggesting that the Inspector believes Capitalism is one of the contributing factors of corruption within society, casting out the supposed idle people within society, or those who challenge the Capitalist structure. Instead, he proposes that Socialism is the way forward, by treating everyone equally regardless of their social status within society. The noun ‘members’ could symbolise the body parts that society shares, when one cell, one tissue, one organ, one body part fails, the whole body collapses, thus being a reflection of society itself, where if one person is ostracised from society then the whole of society collapses. Furthermore, the noun ‘members’ could also suggest that everyone is entitled to play their part within society, share their opinions and feelings, as though they are a part of a social club or organisation, the social organisation being society itself. The engagement dinner may be seen as a microcosm of society, each family member associated with an inimitable trait that is solely theirs to express. Furthermore, the frequent repetition of the collective pronoun ‘we’ further emphasises the concept of inclusion, an ideal that the Inspector believed to be his duty to promote and share, as a member of society.

It is this ideal.

It is this ideal that we, as members of society, should feel obligated to promote – this ideal of inclusion, because it is a lack of inclusion that is condemning society to an irreversible collapse in moral principles. How can we as a society hope to improve the world without the inclusion of people? It this addition of people that contributes to the improvement of our society; it is their beliefs, their commitment, their thoughts, their motivations, their opinions, their ambitions, their life that creates more than one person could destroy, because what they leave behind is a legacy. It is this legacy. It is this legacy that lays down the blueprints for the rest of society to follow, lays down the blueprints for a monument that epitomises the values of a proud and unified society. Yet we need time to change, time to manifest these concepts into the fabric of us as humans and society, otherwise we will become overwhelmed by an influx in change, like we are now, being bombarded by change, slowly suffocating, yet we are too stubborn to ask for help.

From this, as a society we should learn to be undivided in our morals and standards that we hold ourselves to, as well as others. We should also learn to be truthful to those that we model the future for. It is not our power or title or wealth that defines us, but our strength of character and societal concern. We could survive if we held virtue over wealth, yet we wouldn’t be able to survive if we held wealth over virtue. Wealth is a materialistic concept imposed upon us at birth; whereas, virtue is a moral concept that is inherent, moulded and shaped as we mature. It is a power of our own making.

History has its eyes on you: don’t be the villain in your own narrative, because when you’re gone who can justify your actions except yourself?


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