Remind Me Again, How Did Rome Fall?

Latin was taught in high school not so many years ago. In fact two years of such study was standard. What did we learn and who cares?

The study of Latin was in fact helpful throughout my life from language studies to the history of World War II and how the Roman legions provided a military history of war in Europe. Somewhere along the way it provided that the rationale for the fall of the Roman Empire was economic, social, political and moral decay. An in-depth study might provide an understanding how each of these led to the demise of Rome. My question is how are these four factors interacting today and in what direction are we heading in the good “ole” USA?

The recession of 2008, the ongoing problem with job loss and wage stagnation may be an indication of economic decline. Social concerns regarding treatment of LBGT people, how immigrants are viewed, the massive incarceration of people in our prisons each should make us question our values. Political decay may be the first to come to mind for many people. Our legislators won’t talk because their beliefs are so different. Some focus on helping the rich with a claim to be creating a better life for the workers and the electorate. Rolling back regulations without regard for their benefits for the present or future generations appears to indicate our continuing decline. Some would say we are heading toward the demise of the “American Empire.” This however is not a one-way street and not the only road to travel.

Some controls have been placed on the financial world and money markets to limit the greed and seek fairness and decency. The job market is improving and calls for better wages for workers are getting louder and with some positive effects. Exposing the wealth separation and creating an awareness of how the road to middle class has been narrowed may be a first step. The African-American, LBGT communities have made some gains. Perhaps the recent health care debacle has shown that people are more concerned about each other and the ability to obtain medical treatment than many thought. The political arena is a weaker link in this process. Massive amounts of money by the ultra rich few seem to keep the least caring or knowledgeable people in office. Those elected deny the opinions of knowledgeable people on issues from education to science but resistance is growing. More local action at both the state and local levels has resulted in fighting back to some degree. Electing good honest and caring people is essential to reverse this on the national level.

Now for our weakest link which is moral decay. This isn’t our sexual behavior but more what we accept as moral. The fact that billionaires accumulate great wealth essentially taken from the middle class is unconscionable. The fact that others of us support tax cuts for the billionaire class is immoral. These tax cuts take money from education, healthcare, poor people, elderly people and we accept that behavior. Unions which provided a middle class lifestyle are eliminated and we acquiescence to it. This is moral decay and it is wrong. If we fall this is where it happens on moral grounds or the lack of. Our choice is continued decay or we fight.

Simultaneously we experience decline and improvement. Different people view the same actions differently. The problem is only one seeks the moral high ground. Choosing the right road or reversing the one we are on is doable. We need the knowledge, understanding and the will to do it. We need people to care about each other and who are willing to stand up, speak up, join up and act up. Money can buy some of us but not most of us. People are not stupid but do need a kick in the behind periodically. The road chosen will determine if we follow in the path which Rome pursued. Remind me again what happened there. Was anyone capable of fighting or did no one care?


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