This past August my middlest daughter married her fiancé in a small ceremony that was as unique as the two of them. That being said, one moment of entertainment occurred during the service when my daughter recited her self-composed vows by reading them from her Windows Phone.
As a Microsoft Dad, this was too amusing to keep to myself, so I forwarded a photo to some of the folks in the Windows Phone division, and the story was picked up by the Windows Blog team, which published my daughter's description of the event as "First Person: With this phone, I thee wed"
"The wedding was in a little white chapel, up against a mountain, near the ocean. We wanted a simple, elegant wedding that represented us. We went through all the different weddings we'd seen - do we want to mix the sand? light a unity candle? - but we decided that wasn't really us. So we cut out all the things that weren't really us, and wrote our own vows.
"My phone is the thing I always have on me, so when I needed to write my vows I used Office on my phone. Whenever I thought of something I wanted to add, I could just jot it down. When it came to the day of, I thought maybe I should write it on a piece of paper. Then the minister said, 'Why not just read it off your phone?'
"My husband didn't know I was going to read off my phone. He said his vows off paper, and when it was my turn I looked at the pastor and she pulled out my phone and handed it to me. Everyone laughed - it made it a little more lighthearted, so we weren't bawling.
"My husband laughed, because I'm on my phone all the time, and he's on his. So I'm sure he wished he had thought of it. Now the vows are saved on my phone, and every time I want to go back and read them, I can. Meanwhile, his piece of paper is floating around somewhere - I don't even know where it is."
(photo: ©Rebecca Calvo Photography)
When you study history, you are invariably introduced to Carroll Quigley's seven stages in The Evolution of Civilizations. In chapter 5 of his book, Quigley describes the seven states in the history of a civilization; these are:
- Mixture: The mixture of diverse, smaller societies to form a unique, larger whole.
- Gestation: The gestation of that large society, specifically in the development of a method for accumulating an economic surplus and investing it in methods of expansion.
- Expansion: A period of vigorous expansion in population, territory, technological competence, wealth, knowledge, etc.
- Conflict: A period of major conflict between societal elements or geographical areas within the civilization.
- Empire: The development of a universal empire ruling over the entire civilization, which far from being a golden age represents a precursor to decay and collapse.
- Decay: The decay of the civilization as exemplified in the ossification of institutions and structures within the empire.
- Collapse/Invasion: The collapse of the civilization, usually through invasion by a younger civilization that is in the expansion phase.
Every great civilization has gone through this formula - with no exceptions.
From my perspective, the history of the United States has emerged in the following way:
- Our Mixture phase was pre-1750s as European settlers began to arrive and colonize the East Coast.
- Gestation followed the 1750s through the early 1800s as the colonists won their independence from European rule and began to establish a new nation.
- Expansion was from the early 1800s through the 1860s as the new nation pushed west toward the Pacific Ocean.
- Conflict was from 1860s through the latter 1800s as the United States grappled with the Civil War and its aftermath.
- Empire was from the latter 1800s through the latter 1950s as the reunified United States fought a series of World Wars and established itself as a dominant world power.
- Decay began in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the generation born during the post-WWII Baby Boom spat on the prosperity that had been fought for and freely given to them, and all vestiges of ethical and moral standards were removed from public education. This period was marked by dramatic rises in crime rates, drug proliferation, corruption, divorce, unemployment, abortions-on-demand, corporate greed, and worst of all - the political ineptitude which prevents anything from being done about it.
According to Mr. Quigley's formula, all that the United States have left to face are Collapse and Invasion; civilizations do not recover once they have entered the Decay phase.
What is tragically ironic is that the people who vociferously claim to be trying to save the United States, namely Progressives and Liberals, are actually doing the most damage. As Quigley illustrates in his book, when members of a civilization become so preoccupied with arguing about what they perceive are their "rights" instead of contributing to society and adhering to an ethical set of standards or morals, the fabric of civilization unravels, and eventually implodes as an emerging civilization invades and conquers.
In this present day and age, people are rushing headlong into their inevitable demise; all the while they are wearing blinders which prevent them from seeing what is obvious to the less-outspoken of their peers. It is a sad manifestation of The Emperor's New Clothes; and even though the irony is missed by those who are too foolish to see themselves as members of the deceived, future generations will have the perspective granted by history with which to judge this time period with impartiality (and thereby with greater accuracy).
Several hundred years from now, historians of that coming era will look back with amazement as they analyze how the American civilization was ripped apart by the selfish desires of those who claimed to be acting in the best interests of society.
In closing, I think the rock group Rush expressed that sentiment quite well in their song "A Farewell to Kings":
A Farewell To Kings
When they turn the pages of history
When these days have passed long ago
Will they read of us with sadness
For the seeds that we let grow
We turned our gaze
From the castles in the distance
Eyes cast down
On the path of least resistance
Cities full of hatred, fear and lies
Withered hearts and cruel tormented eyes
Scheming demons dressed in kingly guise
Beating down the multitude
And scoffing at the wise
Back in the 1980s I was a big fan of the Canadian Power Trio named "Triumph." As far as arena rock was concerned, few bands could put on a show that was anywhere near as entertaining as a Triumph concert. It wasn't just about being a fan - there are any number of great bands out there who could put on a good show if you already liked them; but Triumph put on a killer show whether you liked them or not.
At the height of their popularity, Triumph recorded what was to become one of their greatest hits, which was a song that was titled "Fight the Good Fight." Many guitar players - myself included - spent a good deal of time learning that song, and I always enjoyed playing it live in the various rock bands that I played in throughout my teenage years.
As the first official day of Autumn is just around the corner here in Seattle, the opening lines to "Fight the Good Fight" seem to take on special meaning:
"The days grow shorter,
And the nights are getting long.
Feels like we're running out of time."
As I look out of my office window, that's exactly what I see:
Our short-lived Pacific Northwest Summer appears to have come to a close, and the clouds seem like they're here for the duration. The sun is setting a little earlier each day, and within a few months the choleric combination of miserable mists and depressing dusk will shorten the average day to six hours or less of daylight. And yet the most discouraging fact that I have to wrestle with today is the knowledge that the weather will be this way for the next nine months.
[I exhale a deep sigh...]
Three months from now is the Winter Solstice, at which time we will confront the shortest day of the year; after that, we will at least have the small consolation that each day will be a little longer than the last, but we still won't see much of the sun until sometime next June or July.
[I heave another deep sigh...]
I wonder how much a plane ticket to Hawaii would cost in January?