Why did the Roman Empire Fall? For many years I believed the answer to this question was universally agreed upon. According to Edward Gibbon, a man who is known in some circles as the first modern historian, the empire was conquered by barbarian invaders because of a loss of civic virtue amongst the general citizenry. This broad, umbrella statement probably covers the truth. So, I’ll not argue the point.
There is, however, good reason to point out that, according to one source, there have been more than 200 theories advanced in an attempt to explain the fall of the Roman Empire. A cursory reading of the history causes me to believe that Gibbon’s view as articulated in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is, for the most part, the best assessment. Still, the fact that so many different ideas about the empire’s fall have circulated in my view underscores the complexity of discussions of this nature.
While my main mission in life is not the preservation of the American way of life, I am grateful for the nation of my birth. I am also concerned about the course our nation is on, since it is likely to be the place where my children and my children’s children will reside during their earthly sojourn. I’m concerned for the direction our nation is taking, because I do believe that we have a rich spiritual heritage that is under attack from without. Yet, my concerns do not rise, primarily, from this reality. My concerns emanate from what appears to be a generalized erosion of the morals and values upon which our nation was founded and upon which it has been able to weather many storms.
While there is much to be said regarding each of the points of observation that follow, I’ll reserve comment for now. Perhaps I’ll come back to these and elaborate on them in the future. But, my reason from bringing them up is to inquire as to whether readers:
— Agree or disagree that there is a loss of civic virtue amongst the citizenry of the U.S.A.
— Agree or disagree that the items I identify are below are an accurate assessment of the cultural climate in the U.S.A.
— Who agree with this premise have additional categories which they would add to this list.
Here are the five things I believe are strong indicators of cultural decline in America:
1. The DEVALUATION OF LIFE as exhibited in the number of abortions; the continued efforts to legalize physician assisted suicide; the glorification of violence in virtually every form of mass media; and the number of murders committed each year.
2. The DEIFICATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL as exhibited in concerted efforts on the parts of many to sanitized public expressions of faith in a Creator God and Sovereign Lord who has anything to say about how we conduct our daily lives.
3. The DETERIORATION SOCIAL MORES as exhibited in the constant reports of corporate and political corruption; the high numbers of property crimes, including theft of intellectual property; and the general decline of civility in the way people interact on a day-to-day basis.
4. The DECONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL STRUCTURES as exhibited in the continued efforts to reshape our thinking marriage; family and sexuality, which necessitates the removal of “old” structures which “conflict” with the “new” structures and “confuse” emerging generations.
5. The DESENSITIZATION OF SOCIETY TO SUFFERING AND INJUSTICE as exhibited in an apparent willingness to overlook entire people groups and population centers that are in need as a result of mistreatment and/or abuse simply because we have seen so much of this that we are becoming convinced that nothing is ever going to change.
Well, you might not agree with my assessments, particularly the explications which follow each of these points. I’m really interested in knowing what you think, though. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings. If what you think steps on my toes, it’s probably because they need stepping on. My real desire in opening this conversation is to somehow touch the hearts of many so that we might help one another become part of the solution. In my view, we need a seed change in the collective thought of our nation. This, I believe, is essential so that might live peaceful and quiet lives, while being about our Father’s business of lovingly sharing God’s truth with those who need to learn of the spiritual healing power of His goodness and grace as exhibited in the life and teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.
© Bill Williams, October 6, 2006