Western Civilization - Left Brain Excess and Right Brain Return

 

Western Civilization

The Greeks

The roots of the current Western Civilization can be found in Greece – roughly during the years of 750 BC to 350 BC.  The Greek Civilization was comprised of a relatively loosely knit group of cities on the Greek peninsula.  The Greek Peninsula has deep inlets and highlands that afford fairly protected locations for cities, the inland areas provided good farming.   The Greeks were good at navigating the seas and spread their ideas mainly through colonization over sea routes.  They colonized large areas of Sicily, Italy, the northern African coast, the northern Aegean coast, and all around the Black Sea. 

The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer are among the oldest known literary writings from antiquity.  Little is known about Homer, although the poems were probably written around 700 BC and were likely stories that had been verbally recited for many years before they were committed to paper.  Odysseus, the main character, was a cultural hero among the early Greeks and the poems were a staple of Greek education.  Odysseus was probably the first Western hero.  He was a wanderer and adventurer who gloried in his quest for life ventures.  In many ways he epitomized the Greek quest for knowledge.

The Greeks essentially invented the basic scientific and technological disciplines that exist yet today.  They laid the mathematical and scientific foundations for nearly all scientific disciplines.  Hippocrates introduced mathematics and the science of the human body.  Thales posited that human reasoning could explain the world and that observable objects in the world can be reduced to elemental components.  The list of inventions includes electricity, magnetism, distillation, the pulley, Archimedes screw,
cement, the stirrup, parchment paper, glass-blowing, fundamental mathematical relationship, etc.  This list goes on and on. In addition, perception, moral truths, human reason, logic, politics, and inter-human relations were explored by the Greek philosophers.

The Greeks were the first to fully understand human individualism and to know and begin to harness human reasoning abilities.  These were profound accomplishments in human development and directly served as the springboard for Western Civilization.  The Greek contributions to understanding the human mind required a written language, because written language is required to communicate and to establish permanent thought.  The first evidence of the Greek alphabet and written language shows it was established at about 750 BC. 

The first major involvement of left brain ability into guidance of human civilization was introduced by the Greeks. 

The Greeks were also the first peoples to implement democratic forms of government.  They were the first to introduce the concept of a citizen with rights in government.   Each city had a different form of such government: ranging from oligarchy in which a city was ruled by aristocracy to true democracy run by votes and representation of all men.  Sparta and Athens are classical examples of the latter and former respectively.  Many Greek cities used Athens as a government model; however, many other Greek cities preferred their oligarchic rule (especially the ruling aristocrats) and this caused divisiveness among the Greeks that lead to internal war (Peloponnesian War). 

The great age of classical Greece ended with conquest by the Macedonian armies under Philip and Alexander the Great in 335 BC. However, the Macedonians considered themselves Greek and through their numerous other conquests helped to spread widely the Greek language, ideas and culture. 

The Romans accepted and applied the operating knowledge of the left brain that was discovered and described by the Greeks.  Their main contribution was in applying such knowledge to the world around them.  They built a civilization that dominated the Western world for 1,000 years. Our current Western Civilization has developed directly from the Greek and Roman contributions. 

The Greek and Roman Civilizations were fueled mostly by application of the left brain abilities at both the individual and group levels.  One of the keys to “success”, as they defined it, was the relative ease with which individuals could contribute ideas to be incorporated into the group.   Reason, logic, and the scientific method enabled tremendous advancements in the human ability to use and control the world around us.  Individuals with good ideas could have an affect at the group level.  Of course, right brain functioning still existed in the Greeks and Romans, but it was the new development of the left brain that fueled their growth and accomplishments. 

The Greek philosophers clearly established our speech-based brain as the only way in which we could have true knowledge of reality, and demoted the vision-based brain as illusory and not a trusted view of reality.  The Greek philosophers and other Greek minds established the left brain as being in control of Western Civilization, an operational mode that continues in Western Civilization yet today.  Their approach of elevating the left brain is understandable, because, up until then, as a collective species our group-thinking was still largely controlled by our collective right brain. Western Civilization has had amazing accomplishments as result.  However, other civilizations have not as completely embraced left brain leadership.  Later we will examine the effects of placing the right brain in an illusory role.  It is worth questioning whether the current role is appropriate.

Impact of the Greek Miracle

The Greeks totally shook up human development and civilization by exploring and codifying the cognitive abilities of the left brain.  They introduced reason and thought as guiding elements for human civilization.  The left brain flexed its muscles and wrested major control of human destiny from the right brain.  Human thought took control from instinct.

Prior to the Greeks, earlier civilizations were primarily right brain organizations that used religion and despotism to control people through their base instincts.  By introducing reason and thought, the Greeks distributed the knowing to everyone.  Each person’s individualism was established and recognized.  Each person could think about his/her own ego and recognize it’s thinking capabilities as being part of their ego.  Communication mechanisms enabled the thoughts of individuals to be aired at the group level and, if accepted, individual thoughts could be implemented by the group.  This was not possible in earlier civilizations.

Certainly at some point along our evolutionary development, humans did not have sufficient left brain deductive reasoning for it to guide our behavior, and clearly we do today.  There must have been some point along our evolutionary path where, in a large percentage of humans, reasoning had developed to the extent that we would allow it to guide us.  Such development was probably occurring in the ancient civilizations but the rigid and inflexible hierarchy of the civilization suppressed expression of such individualism.  The relatively small and isolated cities of Greece were ideal environments, at the right evolutionary time, for this revolution to occur.

Individualism became more easily expressed during the time of the Greeks. This came from the left brain. However, we were still emerging from controls established by the survival instincts of right brain.  The instincts of the right brain did not go away – they were still there and just as strong as ever.  These instincts included our needs and responsibilities to the group.  Even though we had learned the individualism of the left brain, we continued to experience the feelings and instincts of the right brain.

Equally important with the introduction of reason, the Greeks also introduced democracy.

Democracy was an extremely important part of the Greek group think.  Democracy was the main form of group governance.  Democracy enables individuals to each contribute (vote) to the group governance.  Do people vote with their left brain logic or their right brain feelings?  Obviously, it depends upon the individual and the issue being voted upon…but the global answer is that people vote with some combination of right and left brain inputs.  Democracy engages and includes both the right brain and the left brain in group governance.

Democracy enables each person to contribute (vote) to the group using whatever combination of left brain reasoning and right brain intuition they desire.  Democracy is a clever group governance system that enables both the right and left brains to participate in group governance.  
 

The Romans

The city of Rome had its origins around 750 BC.  Rome gained its independence from Etruscan rule and established a Greek-inspired republic around 510 BC, which date is usually considered the beginning of the Roman Republic.  The Roman Republic grew slowly during the next couple of centuries under the strong influence of the Greeks and their culture.  The Carthaginians were the last remaining large rival of the Romans, and they were defeated by 202 BC.  The three centuries from about 150 BC to 150 AD were the high point of the Roman Republic and Empire.  During these years the Roman Empire encompassed nearly all of Europe, northern Africa, and Western Asia.  Western Civilization reached a peak during these years that was not attained again for about 1,500 years - during the Renaissance. 

The Romans were very good at conquest and at keeping the conquered peoples within the Empire.  At least at the beginning, all male Roman citizens were conscripted (drafted) into the army.  Although their strategies and forms of government were different depending the times and locations, Roman citizenship was offered to conquered peoples, democratic forms of government were established, and men in conquered lands were also conscripted into the army. 

Roman power and republican administration brought a Pax Romana to the entire region – there was relative peace in the Western world for the first time.  The Romans introduced and spread a common law everywhere they conquered. Nothing like this had happened before in human history.

The Romans were unabashed students and admirers of the Greeks.  The Greeks had introduced freedom of thought, reasoning, logic, science, individualism, and democracy.  The Romans were excellent students.  They studied the Greek teachings and learned to apply them in ways that the Greeks were not able.  The Romans built edifices, roads, and aqueducts, some of which remain today.  The Romans even copied the art and religion of the Greeks.  Many Roman statues are nearly identical with those of the Greeks.  They also adopted the Greek gods but re-named them: Poseidon became Neptune, Hermes became Mercury, Ares became Mars, Hades became Pluto, Aphrodite became Venus, etc. 

The Greeks were the architects of Western Civilization; the Romans were the builders.  The Greeks accomplished the intellectual work of developing reasoning, the rules of logic and science, and democracy.  The Romans successfully developed and spread the fruits of the Greek revolution through a wide portion of the known world.

The weight of the immense land area that had been conquered began to cause cracks in the empire.  The autonomy of local regions and the loyalties of the various armies, which were conscripted from local regions, were decentralizing forces.  Local military power and rule became increasingly influential, making it more difficult to hold the Republic and empire together.  In 49 BC, Julius Caesar returned from successful military campaigns in Africa, Spain, and Egypt and used his army to invade Rome.  Although he crushed his enemies with force, he used political influence within the Senate to have himself appointed dictator for life.  Julius Caesar was famously murdered in 44 BC, but he had set the wheels in motion that lead to the end of democracy in Rome – the end of the Roman Republic.  By the end of his successor’s reign, Caesar Augustus in 14 AD, the Republic had ended; henceforth Emperors ruled Rome. Although this change is often cited as the beginning of the end for Rome, the momentum of the Roman Empire actually reached its apex of territorial size, wealth, and peace during the first and second centuries AD under guidance of benevolent dictators.

From end of the second century AD until the fifth century AD the Roman Empire continued but faced numerous threats both from within and without.  This period of time also saw the most opulent style of living ever in Rome.  During these times the Romans had particular problems with the northern (Germanic) and eastern (Huns and Goths) frontiers.  Decay from within left Rome vulnerable.  The Goths came from central Asia and first sacked Rome in 410 AD.  By 500 AD nearly all remnants of the Western Roman Empire had been destroyed, although an eastern branch of the Roman Empire continued in some form for a couple more centuries. 

The Huns and the Goths have been labeled barbarians because they spoke a crude language, were unable to read or write, and did not apparently understand agriculture.  Their strengths were that they were well-trained and ruthless fighters who were also excellent horsemen.  The luxury, corruption, and civil strife within Rome made them an easy target for the barbarians. 

Christianity and Rome

The events of the life of Jesus, during the years now numbered 30 AD to 33AD, were not of great consequence to Rome at the time given the scope of their Empire.  However, the rise of Christianity subsequent to Jesus’ death would become central to the future of Rome and of Western Civilization.  During the first and second century AD Christianity spread quite widely, although it was not accepted by the Romans and many Christians were persecuted.  By the end of the third century AD, approximately 1 in 10 of the Empire population was Christian, at least one Roman emperor had been Christian, and Christians were generally no longer persecuted.  Diocletian ordered the last large scale Christian persecutions in 304-305 AD. 

Constantine, who was the subsequent Roman emperor from 312 to 337 AD made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.  During his reign, Christianity became part of the fabric of Roman rule.  This had an immense impact upon the subsequent world, because it meant that the Roman world was a Christian world when it was destroyed.  Many people at the time and many subsequent scholars blame Christianity for the fall of Rome.  The writings of St. Augustine (386 AD), covered later, defended Christianity against those charges.

The year we now number as Zero

It is very appropriate that we began re-numbering our years at this approximate date in history.  The events of that time were profound and continue to play a significant role in Western Civilization.  Critical truths and lessons for our own future were raised because of the events of that time

At this time the Roman Republic was near its peak.  Its power and effects on Western Civilization were pervasive.  The Romans had used the reasoning and deductive powers introduced by the Greeks and had accomplished miracles never before seen or even imagined in human history.  Harnessing human thought was very powerful. 

Two major events happened very near the year zero.  These events eventually lead to the Dark Ages.  The primary players in these 2 events both had JC as initials: Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ.

Democracy in Rome ended during this period.  The actions of Julius Caesar led to the fall of democracy and the beginning of rule by emperors, or individual people. The Roman Republic became the Roman Empire. 

Julius Caesar should be given neither full credit nor full blame for this occurrence.  Yes, he certainly triggered the events that caused the death of democracy in Rome.  However, the Roman Republic was already under large strain to manage the burgeoning territory.  There was a less-than-perfect implementation of democracy anyway – especially in other regions of the territory.  But, the fact remains that democracy ended and rule by emperors was implemented.

The loss of democracy in Rome essentially broke the only right brain participation in control of civilization and human destiny. (Discussed later)

Jesus was born into an amazing time and location.  The Roman Empire was near its peak of glory.  Jesus was born in a location on the edge of the empire.  This fringe area is where the clash of civilizations would have been most noticeable.  The impact of human reasoning and participation of the left brain in civilization could be viewed from a virgin perspective.  This was a good vantage point from which to observe and analyze the affects of the Greco-Roman explosion that had been completely transforming the world. The issues were at their clearest here.

Jesus was born into the Jewish tradition and was well-studied and strongly versed in the monotheistic god of the Old Testament.  At almost exactly the same time as Jesus’ ministry, the Romans ended 80 years of Jewish autonomy.  The Jewish people were outraged.  The Jewish people had a pact with their god that they would have a land, and now it had been taken from them. It had been taken from them by the Greco-Roman civilization.  It had been taken from them by a totally unique civilization in which human reasoning participated and dominated.   Humans were in control, not god…and the Roman behavior did not show any redeeming qualities. 

Jesus’ background, and time and location of birth all enabled him to directly experience the effects of allowing human reasoning to control the destiny of humans.  He experienced the effects of allowing the left brain, for the first time in human history, to participate in human destiny.  Jesus was a strong believer in a monotheistic god – and therefore a strong believer in having the instinctual right brain control human destiny.

Jesus Christ planted the seeds that brought the right brain back into control of Western Civilization.  Jesus Christ taught about a monotheistic God that was loving and compassionate – and to be saved one only needed to believe.  Belief is a right brain cognitive ability.

It was time for the right brain “group” to assert its leadership position; the left brain was not succeeding.  It was time for the survival mode of the right brain to again dominate human groups in the regions we now call “Western”.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine lived from 354 AD to 430 AD.  He was a priest in the waning days of the Roman Empire, after Constantine and hence during the time that the Roman Empire had become Christian.  His most famous and influential work was The City of God.  The primary reason for this work was to defend Christianity against the claims that it was responsible for the decline of the Roman Empire that was very evident during his time. 

In his book St. Augustine showed how 2 “cities” had fought with one another during world history.  One city was of man and included the flesh and earthly materials, the other city was of god and not of this earth.  The city of god was inside of each Christian.  Rome and the empire were part of the city of Man, and were separate from the City of God that was attainable by belief in Jesus.  Ultimately, any glory found in the City of Man paled in comparison to the glory available to any believer in the City of God.

St. Augustine was a perceptive observer and a talented writer: he was also located at a transitional time and location.  In some respects, his observations and writings can be compared to those of Plato – who was also at a unique transitional time and location in human history.  While Plato wrote at the time of left brain emergence in human group control, St. Augustine wrote at the time of the demise of left brain group control.   From the perspective herein, the following interpretation of St. Augustine’s work is suggested: 

St. Augustine provided a clear distinction between the right brain (City of God) and the left brain (City of Man).  The history of man certainly was a struggle between two worlds – that of the right brain and that of the left brain.  The right brain cannot be completely analyzed and known – ultimately we can only “believe” in God.  The City of God, or right brain, cannot ultimately be known by man’s reasoning and logic which come from the left brain.  The great accomplishments of the Roman Empire were those of the City of Man – i.e. the accomplishments of the left brain. 

Christianity played an extremely large role during the fall of the Roman Empire and also during the Dark Ages that followed.  The Roman elite lived very opulent lives.  They seemed to place materialism (the City of Man) and pleasures of the flesh before all else. The same easy assimilation of individual contributions to the group that had helped to fuel the Greco-Roman civilization had also enabled individual self-desires, unchecked by group democracy, to easily and effectively corrupt the group.  The loss of democracy led to abuses my man.  Christianity, on the other hand, taught people to be satisfied with whatever they had in the way of earthly pleasures; the pleasures of the City of God that awaited them in the after-life were of overwhelming importance. 

This was the form of the Christianity that took Western Civilization humans into the Dark Ages.

After the fall of Rome - darkness

The Roman Empire had dominated Western Civilization for over a thousand years and, when it died, the vacuum was immense.  There was no longer a central authority to manage larger groups of people, to manage the economy, or to build and maintain infrastructure.  There was no longer a common law.  When the only central authority died and with nothing able to replace it, the population dispersed into small groups.  

The period from about 450 AD to 1000 AD is often referred to as the Dark Ages.  This is for two reasons: life during those ages was very bleak; and almost no written record of the period exists.

During the Dark Ages, most of the classical Greek and Roman knowledge was lost.  Daily living was largely reduced to survival.  When the Roman Empire finally collapsed, it left a huge vacuum of central authority.  During the Dark Ages there was little organization to human groups.  The only centralizing factor during these times was the Christian church.  Unfortunately for this situation, the Christian church was probably the first religion that was not closely associated with a secular role of governance.  The Church was unprepared to govern people – only to nurture their souls.  During these times of mixed religious/state power, local leaders often misused their church-ordained power for personal gain.

Western Civilization had devolved to a bunch of small, localized, religious communities which were controlled by local fiefdoms that ruled by might. The common Christian God was essentially all that remained from the Roman civilization that had crumbled.  

With the lack of central authority and the organization it had previously provided, the comforts of life were lost.  Survival became a way of life.  Even the many large and functional Roman buildings, roads and aqueducts were pilfered for their materials.  The widespread adherence to the common laws that the Roman Empire provided no longer existed – lawlessness ruled.  Personal protection became important – but it also became expensive as feudal lords provided protection for high prices.

Because of the lack of written materials, we cannot really know the state of mind of people during the Dark Ages.  Judging from our vantage point in history and from our socio-economic position, it is easy to conclude that life was quite miserable.  However, it is possible that many people, buoyed by Christian beliefs, were quite happy.  They may have been happy with a very simple life and with time to praise the glory of God and wait for the second coming.  Religion can work well to provide happiness in low-resource conditions.

Christianity and the Dark Ages

Christianity moved to the forefront of the Roman dictatorships (emperors) as the Empire went through its declining years and it can be argued that the church contributed to or even caused the decline.   Religion and autocratic control of state have historically gone hand-in-hand and the mixing of Christian and state leadership in the latter Roman emperors certainly offered opportunity for either mis-use or bad decisions in such concentration of power. 

Christianity also helped people to survive and cope within the world of the Dark Ages in which the Western Civilization built by the left brain had been destroyed.  The Dark ages were characterized by small-ish religious communities and by fiefdoms that controlled small regions based upon the use of might.  This was essentially a return to some of the earliest days of human groupings after we had developed agriculture and animal domestication.

Regardless the role of religion (Christianity) in causing the fall of the Roman Empire, it appears quite clear that the right brain, and not the left brain, was in control of Western Civilization during the Dark Ages. 

Democracy seems a necessary complement to allowing human reasoning to play a role in human governance and destiny.  This is the human (left brain) bargain made with our right brain. When that bargain was broken, the right brain took control….as is probably always its option.  The greatest continuing danger to the West is that it will cast itself too far from the right brain.

Figure. The upper figure shows how the collective human mind was organized during the hey-days of the Greeks and Romans – with the left brain largely in control of our groups.  The lower figure shows the collective mind during the Dark Ages.  Effectively, group management returned to the God and right brain control of early human groupings.


Recovery from the Dark Ages

The years from 1000 to 1500 saw a slow but gradual re-emergence of some centers of civilization.  There is some re-emergence of Greek thought and literature, but the Christian church is so strong that such thought must be kept underground for fear of personal torture and/or death.  Noted scholars who fit this label were Peter Abelard and St. Thomas Aquinas – both of whom were publicly reprimanded for viewpoints that slanted Church teachings in the direction of the participation of human thought. 

In 1095 Pope Urban II launched the first of 8 crusades that were to span a period of almost 200 years.  The primary goal of these crusades was to recapture the Holy Land (specifically Jerusalem) from the hands of Islam.  Only this first crusade was successful at gaining control of Jerusalem; the control lasted for 70 years.  All of the other crusades ended in failure to capture Jerusalem.  These crusades were fueled by the religious fervor of Christians to spread the word of their God.  

Gnosticism

Christianity may bear Jesus’ name, but the teachings of Christianity were very significantly developed and influenced by the leaders of the church in the years after Jesus’ death.  Church leaders selected the 27 books that were canonized in the New Testament after Christ’s death and thereby selected the teachings of Christianity.  However these 27 books represent only a portion of early Christian literature, illustrated by the 1945 discovery of early Christian literature found in a vase at Nag Hammadi in Egypt and reported upon by Elaine Pagels in The Gnostic Gospels. 

The official teachings of both orthodox Jews and Christians state that there is a chasm between god and man and that the world of god is unknowable to man except by belief.  The teachings accepted into the New Testament of the Bible by the priests are consistent with this message.  It is tempting to think that the inclusion decisions made by the priests were self-serving.

The Nag Hammadi documents, which were not accepted into the New Testament, suggested that self-knowledge obtained through human reason is the same as knowledge of god.  They stated that we can know god through reason and self-inspection; the worlds of god and man intersect and are not completely separate from one another.  These views were suppressed by the church and in the Christian beliefs, thus permanently separating the worlds of man and god for future generations, extending even to today.  According to Christian beliefs, human reasoning cannot approach or know about god – it is by belief alone that we can know god.  This very effectively took the world of god away from the left brain and gave it totally to the domain of the right brain from which it had come.  It also took it away from individuals and gave it to the priests.

Imagine how different the history of Western Civilization might have been if the Gnostic point of view had been incorporated into Christianity.  It would have given the left brain some input into religion. It would have given us the opportunity to use left brain logic and reason to study the human core and the god and religion that are contained therein.

The left brain re-emerges

Late in the Dark Ages, such writers as Peter Abelard and St. Thomas Aquinas, both of whom were punished by the church, espoused views that human reason could be applied to the study of god.  This was an idea espoused by the Gnostics shortly after Jesus’ death.  In effect this was a proposal to join the two Cities of St. Augustine, or at least suggest that some connection may exist between the City of Man and the City of God – or that the left brain participate in the study of god and religion. 

The control of Western Civilization had been given to (taken by?) the right brain in the form of Christianity for 1,000 years, ending with the Renaissance in 1,300.  This period included the darkest years of Western Civilization.  With the Renaissance, human reasoning and freedom of thought which had been introduced by the Greeks and then taken away during the Dark Ages, were again participating in Western Civilization and human destiny

The reasoning and logic of the left brain re-emerged in the Renaissance to guide Western Civilization.  The original works of the Greeks were re-discovered and a new age of reason began.  Today we see the fruits of that Renaissance. Control of Western Civilization has been returned to the left brain.  Science and democracy reign.  The right and left partnership was re-established.


Renaissance

By 1300, the approximate starting date of the Renaissance, Western Civilization had followed the lead of religion (Christianity) for about 1,000 years, and the results for human material comfort on earth had not been good. 

The Renaissance was a truly amazing period that ran for several centuries.    The reason and logic of man again took control of Western Civilization, reflecting renewed leadership by the left brain.  Literature and the arts began to flourish.  People, and not just religious figures, begin to dominate the subject of paintings.  People became the focus of activities, no longer were all activities centered on God and religion.  Perspective appears in painting as we learned how to better represent the world around us.

Many of the classic Greek writings were rediscovered.  Reasoning and logic were again examined and became drivers of civilization. Dissemination of knowledge among people was greatly enhanced with invention of the printing press by Gutenberg.  Famous Renaissance writers include: Dante Alighieri, John Milton, Francois Rabelais, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Thomas More, and Miguel de Cervantes.

Science blossomed as reason and logic were applied to study of the world.  Academic institutions proliferated and journals of scientific findings were published.  The names of great scientists of the Renaissance include: Leonardo Da Vinci, Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and Renee Descartes. 

In the sixteenth century national states began to form, including France, England, Spain and Germany. These were monarchies ruled by royalty that served at the pleasure of God.  In many cases the rulers were despotic.  However, they usually were able to at least convince their subjects that they were benevolent, and times were good enough that they could get away with self-indulgence.  An infrastructure of roads, buildings and ships was developed after many centuries without.  The monarchies supported exploration, primarily for the riches it could bring.  Famous explorers included Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan.

The Christian church had mixed reactions to the Renaissance.  First of all, during medieval times many local church leaders used the church for personal gain and power.  True church people, however, struggled with the conflict between human desires and godliness.  Notable church leaders were Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther. Church reform was occurring. 

Two types of revolutions began in England in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The first was the industrial revolution generally defined as the use of machines in the manufacture of products.  The second was a political revolution, replacing monarchy with a representative and democratic government.

For nearly 1,000 years people within Western Civilization had relegated responsibility for their lives to the Church.  They believed this was the best thing to do for themselves and certainly for their souls.  This period was characterized by a near disappearance of Greco-Roman civilization.  With advent of the Renaissance, people began to take control of their destiny again. 

The American Revolution

The American Revolution in 1776 played a very significant role in the development of our Western Civilization.  The names Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin must be included among the leaders of Western Civilization. 

The American Revolution allowed the continued development of Western Civilization in a new nation with unspoiled lands. A democratic form of government, seeded by England, and not monarchy emerged as the form of government.  Also, since America had been a colony and rebelled against being so, America’s leaders did not immediately follow the imperialistic ways of the European powers.  America was founded on a strong set of democratic principles and a guaranteed set of personal freedoms and rights.