Friday, August 03, 2007

Rome Didn't Fall in a Day Either

The fall of the Roman Empire was a multifaceted combination of errors, many of which today are continually analyzed, studied, and debated; in part because there are similarities to what the US is experiencing currently, as well as the fact that if you don’t know history then you are condemned to repeat it. One continuing theme that is recognized as a reason for the fall is the decline in morals and values of the Roman people. Near the end of the Roman Empire large cities were generally unsafe because of crime, prostitution was rampant, gluttony was common place, and the main form of entertainment were gladiator fights. Now, I am not going to try and convince you that the Roman Empire fell because of this, or that the US will fall because of their current society, but it is interesting to me that we are seeing similar societal declines from generation to generation.

Crime rates in the US are highest in the big cities, mostly because that is also where the most people reside which has a trickle down effect on the amount of crime, but not just a coincidence. While prostitution is not rampant, it is prevalent. More notably, children are having sexual relations and showing sexualized behaviors at a much younger age than ever before. Gluttony is common place; in fact it is the norm. Super-sized meals are creating the greatest generation of obese people the world has ever seen and if you think our gluttonous nature is just related to food, think again. Young Hollywood is a great example, but so far beyond normal it doesn’t count, so just look at what the average young person has in material goods. Nearly every teenager has a cell phone, television, gaming system, computer, and a wardrobe that includes….yes those magical $400 pair of jeans. Even our entertainment has become more and more violent with the increasing popularity of Ultimate Fighting and more current to the news, dog fighting.

Much like the last generation of the Roman Empire, this current generation of young people has been exposed to these behaviors at a young age and understands them as the norm. Turn on any television for more than an hour and you are bound to see crime, sex, gluttony, and violence. Today’s children are on average watching more than 4 hours of television a day, so imaging how much exposure they are getting before they go on the internet and see what is uncensored. Crime on television used to be saved for late night programming when the adults were watching, sex went as far as kissing unless you had premium channels, meals were prepared at the home because eating out even at a fast food chain was a luxury, and boxing was the only live violent entertainment where we saw people hit each other (or hockey for you in Canada).

At some point we as adults need to stop talking about censoring what and how much our children are watching on television or the internet, and actually follow through with our empty promises. We need to spend time with our children and educate them between right and wrong instead of expecting a teacher or a PSA to parent for us. Parenting appears to be more of a hobby than an actual responsibility and using the television as a babysitter is commonplace. We now sit our children in front of a T.V. during homework, dinner, bedtime, and on car rides, so when are we actually talking to our children and parenting? For those of you adults that don’t think that television relates to the behavior of society, put down your poker cards or get off of your poker website, and pay attention. Since poker became a television show the game went from a weekly man’s getaway to one of the most popular games played today, one that which I’m sure you have played recently.

A society with no morals or values is a society that has no value. If the US is to fall in the same manner as the Romans then our inability to teach moral responsibility and values to our children puts the blame on us. My father had this conversation with me when I was young, his father had this conversation when he was young, and now I am having this conversation with you. Why? Because my Grandfather is a part of what is considered the greatest generation, and we are currently a generation that pales in comparison to their morals, values, and integrity. If you don’t see this as fact, then unfortunately we might be too far gone.

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