In the past 30 years it has become fashionable on college campuses to bash “Western Civilization.” This is because some, or many, have assumed that Western Civ is purely the story of Europeans (and we all know that Europeans are the cause of slavery, global warming, and patriarchy, right?). But that would be a false narrative. Western Civilization, the driving force of freedom and prosperity throughout the world to this very day, has its origins…in Asia.
The story of Western Civ begins in Mesopotamia; modern day Iraq. The story travels to Israel, then to Egypt–in Africa. The great Persian civilization also plays a part in the story. Then comes Alexander and his armies from Greece.
The story shifts from Greece to Rome. There in the Roman Empire, the story that began in Mesopotamia is persecuted yet flourishes and eventually overwhelms the Empire. The art, literature, and philosophy of the Greco-Roman world merges with the strong moral fabric and eschatological faith coming out of the Middle East.
A third force, that of pagan Germanic tribes, then descends upon the Empire, and forces another major convulsion in history. On the ashes of ancient Rome, a culture arises that promotes the biblical revelation, and also traces its roots to Greece and Rome, and now also embraces the fierce independence of Germanic tribes.
The story of Western Civ ebbs and flows across what we call Europe, northern Africa, and Western Asia for the next 1000 years–heavily influenced by conflict with Arabic, Turkish, and Mongolian cultures.
For the last 500 years, Western Civ has centered in Europe, North and South America, and Australia/New Zealand. However, if one just takes a step back and looks more closely, one sees clearly that it is definitely not the story of one race, or one country, or even of one religion.
And it is definitely worth studying…and celebrating.