As we continue to learn, reflect, and plan for what is ahead of us because of this pandemic, I think it is important to take this time to think about the world around us and how it is changing and why. One interesting topic that I have started to research over the last few months are the causes of a country’s rise or decline. The thing that is interesting is how different dynamics exist in each of the countries that eventually became superpowers, but how they mostly follow a similar pattern in their rise and decline.

The rise of a nation usually has certain patterns. Before a country becomes a superpower, they have a strong education system and a strong desire to learn. The people in these countries don’t just strive to get their degrees, but they have an interest in learning how to work efficiently, develop skills, allocate resources prudently, and build a society with a common view and purpose. When a country has a strong education and learning system, they naturally become more competitive and innovative compared to the countries around them—which in turn brings jobs, resources, and a sense of success. Most of the time that success leads to a stronger military, significant increases in economic output, and increases in trade, which usually brings that specific country into its peak years. The interesting thing I find in this cycle is that as a country reaches its peak, the first thing that usually starts to decline is the education system and desire to learn, followed by their competitiveness compared to the world. The declines in these areas commonly create great divisions between the rich and poor, along with increases in corruption and high levels of indebtedness.  Naturally the country starts to decline in status, opening the door for the next country that has a desire to learn and work.

While the context listed above is mostly relating to a country’s economic prosperity, I think it also relates to how we live our individual lives. I am sure most of us can relate to a time in our lives when we were like sponges, soaking up as much knowledge as we could. We would talk and consult with the people around us and then, after doing that for a long enough period, we started to make progress in our lives and started achieving our goals. Some of these goals might have been to get involved in ministry, find a relationship with God, get married, or develop in our careers. However, many times as we develop and start feeling success, we start to close ourselves off to having the desire to learn and achieve more. This is partially from becoming comfortable with our circumstances, but also from having pride that we were able to achieve what we did. Many times, we develop the mindset that we now have nothing to learn from the others around us, and that instead people should be learning from us.

So, as we are all anxious to get back to our normal lives, I think it is important to take time to review our lives and see where we stand. Are we the type of people who are continually learning, or have we come to the point where we are hardened, and feel like there is nothing new to learn? Because if the decrease in learning and education can initiate the decline in a global superpower, then we shouldn’t be surprised when our individual lives and businesses start to crumble the minute we stop educating ourselves and looking for ways to learn more about the world around us.