Can The U.S. Make The Same Mistakes Of Past Cultures And Obtain Different Outcomes?
Is the U.S. doomed to follow the decline of the Roman empire?
Here is something to think about...even though this is off the subject of travelling. I have been reading a great book by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, "America's Real War". The subtitle of the book is: An Orthodox Rabbi Insists That Judeo-Christian Values Are Vital For Our Nation's Survival.
Rabbi Lapin says, "Our country is in a tug-of-war. At one end of the rope are those who believe in a secular nation. At the other end are those who stand for a spiritual America. I believe the basic question is whether America is a secular or a religious nation. Whichever view people hold, they do so with utter conviction."
Rabbi Lapin makes the following distinctions between the two opinions, or worldviews:
One end of the rope is anchored by people who believe that the Judeo-Christian tradition represents primitive tribalism and intolerance. These people are joined by many in the "middle ground" who are not committed to every nuance of secularism (that is, anti-religion) but still feel that religious America poses a real threat. They favor a secular America as the lesser of two evils.
On the other end are Americans who feel increasingly alienated by this "enlightened" perspective which denies and attempts to rewrite America's history and then redefine the culture.
The book makes the argument that America is a religious nation in both its history and dominant culture. Not only that, America is has undeniable Judeo-Christian foundational ethics.
Rabbi Lapin then argues in subsequent chapters that "Almost every social pathology and nearly every sign of civic disarray can be traced to one thing: the extirpation of religion from American life during the past three and a half decades."He concludes, and then provides evidence that, "A culture's prospects for success and durability are best revealed by examining what it considers the purpose of life, what is death, how sex should be treated, and similar questions that most of us answer in one of only two ways. Either we consult the the traditions of our faith, or rejecting faith, we seek emotionally satisfying answers.
"The Rabbi makes an uncomfortable analogy between the unsinkable Titanic and America. The impending doom of the "unsinkable" ship was sealed when it struck an iceberg. However, aboard the Titanic, many people did not even know about the collision, nor the timing of the inevitable disaster. Many passengers scoffed at the notion that the collision could imperil the unsinkable ship, much less on the maiden voyage of the engineering marvel.
Rabbi Lapin feels that America "hit the iceberg" in the early 1960's. Only a few people knew it at the time. Fewer people cared. Imperceptibly at first, America began to change gradually. But those of us who have lived long enough to be able to look back to the 1960's can testify that the country looks very, very different. And many of us - especially those of us on the religious end of the rope - do not think the changes that resulted from the opposition of traditional religious values have been for the better of American society.
One chapter compares the changes in America over the past few decades to the decline and fall of the once great and seemingly invincible Roman Empire. In the chapter, Rabbi Lapin refers to "A History of Roman Civilization" by historian, Will Durant. He relates that towards the end of its fall into oblivion, the Roman Empire was briefly propped up by a return to enduring values. In the third century, emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander made the Empire flourish by recommending that the people embrace and live by the morals of the Jews and Christians. He opposed secularism and reduced taxes.
Marcus Aurelius didn't last long. But the point is that although Rome became a footnote to history after the fourth century, it is not yet too late for America to step back from the brink and endure.
What ultimately caused the downfall of the Roman Empire?
The government issued decrees that attempted to replace sound economic laws, including wage and price controls.
The mismanaged economy sank under its own weight. The required government bureaucracy was estimated to equal half of the population.
The cost of government and welfare programs required more and more taxation. The state created a special force of revenue police to examine all property and income and exact severe penalties for tax evasion.
Larger government spawned yet more regulation, intrusion, and abusive taxation. The government became the enemy of the productive sector of society.
At the same time, moral and aesthetic standards disappeared, spurred on by unlimited immigration and clashes of hundreds of cultural norms.
Sound anything like the United States today? Why has "liberating" us from all objective standards, allowing every person to determine morality for himself, failed to deliver the nirvana that was promised? Are you like me; do you have a hard time even detecting morality in government and much of industry today?
Need another example? Rabbi Lapin points out that the U.S. is the only country in the world to place "In God We Trust" upon our currency. He argues that this faith-based motto has been intrinsic in the American economic model and the unprecedented strength of the American capitalist system.
On the other hand, secularism demands that this motto be removed from our currency to "protect" us from religion. Do you agree? Have our Judeo-Christian values enabled the success of the American "experiment"? Will the elimination of these values result in the failure of this experiment?