This editorial was first published in Kathimerini.
The United States of America, an empire focused on foreign enemies, is undermining its economy and its leading role in the world with a political conflict fought on the barren plain of petty party interests and prejudices.
Norway, a prosperous Scandinavian society of persistent collectivism and conformity, was unable to presage the danger of one of its children descending into murderous madness.
Greece, a society of borrowed prosperity, surrendered to luxury and easy credit, is blinded like Samson after his haircut, and depends on the charity of its international creditors, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.
These are very different countries, but all three are currently paying the price of complacency, having surrendered to the delusion that they had solved all of their problems and could rest easy. They stopped evolving and they failed to meet the challenges that appeared before them.
In nature, whatever does not adapt dies, but human societies are endowed with second chances. Sometimes. History is an endless yet incomplete catalog of nations, cities and empires that rose, triumphed and then one day disappeared.
The United States is the greatest military and economic power the world has known, but today it displays all the signs of decadence that condemned all previous superpowers: Stability and prosperity allowed small groups to gather disproportionate power, and they then forced the state to serve their interests at the expense of those of society as a whole.
Norway, with its oil wealth and geographical isolation, continually at the top of the United Nations Human Development Index, far from the problems that plague almost the whole of humanity, was shaken to its core by a single, sick individual. Even the most organized and navel-gazing of societies cannot predict how dark and twisted the human soul can become.
The Greeks, among a handful of nations that have survived with their language and identity through the millennia, forgot the advice of their ancestors and the habits of their grandparents: Never relax, never allow yourself to become soft.
Because only when it knows that nothing can last forever can a society endure change and survive.
Mr. Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily. He is also the founding editor of Kathimerini’s English Edition, which is published as a supplement to The International Herald Tribune in Greece, and Cyprus.