How does the Roman empire before its fall compare to America today? While our economy has been the strongest in the world for a long time, we have recently experienced economical decline. Just as the Roman empire had an increase in unemployment, and as a result, more government handouts to the needy, our country has experienced a recent rise in unemployment. According to the latest release from the United States Department of Labor, unemployment is now at 9.9 percent (www.bls.gov). Meanwhile, our government has also been steadily increasing its financial handouts to the unemployed, entitlement programs for the poor, and its bailouts for big businesses.
In the same way that the value of Roman coins dropped, the value of the American dollar has been under attack for many years. To help correct America's economic woes, the Obama administration announced in March of last year that it would print $1 trillion (ww.rt.com). However, history has shown again and again that printing money, without backing it up with gold or other sources of value, harms an economy instead of helping it. A prime example of this was when Septimus Severus, also seeking to boost his economy, decreased the silver content in Roman coins. It appears that the United States government is repeating some of the mistakes of history instead of learning from them. While the effects of the Obama printing spree are not expected to take toll on our economy for a little while, many economists fear it will create nasty inflation much worse than what we already have.
According the Armed Forces Journal, our country has become the world's largest debtor over the last thirty years (Thompson www.armedforcesjournal.com). Thomas Fingar, the top analyst in the U.S. intelligence community, has predicted that by 2025, China will move towards taking America's place as the world's largest power and stablest economy (Ibid). Over the last decade, our economic growth has lagged behind the rest of the world, our share of global output has dropped from about one third down to one fourth, and we have had more than one recession. Yet during all this, China has had a relatively stable growth rate, averaging about eight percent higher than ours during the Bush administration (Ibid).
In addition to America's economical troubles, we face difficulties with the military and with foreign threats. Since 9/11, we have been at war with enemies in the Middle East who have publicly pledged to destroy us. These terrorists have every intention of carrying out that pledge, and would love to see the downfall of our nation. Lately, however, our response to the threat of terrorism has been what we think of as diplomatic, but what our enemies think as weak.
Many people in our government are advocating the idea of eliminating our nuclear weapons and discontinuing their production in the future. President Obama said in December 2009, “I've made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to pursue the goal of a world without them because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever-more destructive weapons; true security will come for those who reject them” (Gaffney www.newsmax.com). In April, Obama announced that he would begin a new arms strategy that would significantly reduce the United States' usage of nuclear weapons (Sanger www.nytimes.com). Meanwhile, as the United States strives to remove nuclear weapons from the world scene, our enemies continue to make them behind closed doors. Iran, for example, has created a nuclear program. The government promises the program is peaceful, but a number of nations – including the United States and Israel – are convinced it is a precursor to weapons (Ibid). While foreign threats mount overseas, overall discontent grows at home for the military and the wars; just as the Romans lost support for their own military (Yingling www.armedforcesjournal.com).
Having said all this, how Rome and America share many economical and militaristic similarities, one might wonder if these similarities really matter? Does America's economic and military resemblance to the Roman empire mean we are truly doomed for the same fate, or is this resemblance an irrelevant coincidence? The answer can be found by digging deeper into the cause of Rome's fall. The empire not only collapsed because of economical and militaristic issues. Both of these issues stemmed from a larger problem, which Americans should pay attention to, because it mirrors our own situation even more than the economical and militaristic ones do.
Romans forgot who they were. Their national pride and patriotism diminished into a relaxed, false sense of security; a feeling that they would never fall, that their empire would last forever, that they were superior to the world, and invincible. Not long before the city of Rome was sacked by Visigoth barbarians, a poet named Claudian wrote, “There will never be an end to the power of Rome” (Murphy 31). Romans no longer had the morals and virtues they once believed in and fought for, such as the importance of family and hard work. They were no longer as passionate about protecting their homeland and, perhaps, protected it mainly out of fear, instead of patriotism.
In comparing Rome during the Punic Wars to its latter days in the fifth century, historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote, “The difference over six centuries, the dissimilarity that led to the end, was a result not of imperial overstretch on the outside but something happening within that was not unlike we ourselves are now witnessing. Earlier Romans knew what it was to be Roman, why it was at least better than the alternative, and why their culture had to be defended. Later in ignorance they forgot what they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and in consequence disappeared” (Murphy 9).
Just like the Romans, many Americans have definitely forgotten who we are. We have certainly lost much of the patriotism of our ancestors, and we feel the same false sense of security that the Romans felt: a feeling that Americans are the best, that things will always be the way they are now, and America will certainly never fall, because “it's America!” However, just as “being Rome” did not stop Rome from falling, “being America” will not stop us from falling. Our solution is to go back to the morals and values of our founding fathers, and most importantly, the morals and values of the Bible. We must get on our knees and turn our hearts back to God. He is the only true, long-lasting antidote to corruption, moral decline, and every other problem in society that can lead to a civilization's fall.
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