Friday, July 31, 2009

Have The Americans Become Like The Romans?

For the record, while the technical advances of the Roman Empire like the Nazi Empire are something that I marvel, I for one am glad to not be a Roman citizen or a Nazi due to the atrocities that they committed. Be it gassing people to death or watching men fight animals to death under the guise of sport, it all stems from the innate evil that people have. I've longed desire to set higher standards for myself. As for the movie "Gladiator", it wasn't too impressive for a number of reasons. But what can I say? I am not a big fan of "today's" movies.

Now to a question that is asked from time to time:

"Aren’t we just like the Roman Empire, headed for the same kind of fall?”

We hear this question sometimes when someone wants to make the point that the United States is doing something that will lead to its ultimate decline.

The comparison between Rome and America is an intriguing one.

For instance, I recently heard some people talk about going the way of Rome when they were worrying about the terrible consequences of “military expansionism.” Others said we were doing “just like Rome” by giving up “our traditional family values.” Often times, the Roman Empire comparison is just a simple way to emphasize the speaker's negative feelings about a particular American condition or course of action.

But the comparison between Rome and America is an intriguing one. Here are some of the similarities between Rome and America.

1. Both began as small republics without much influence. Then they expanded “to the sea,” by conquering or coercing the peoples who occupied the heartlands. Both continued that expansion beyond the seas. The Romans spread throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. The U.S. took over Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines and parts of the Caribbean.

2. Both claimed important political traditions such as the rule of law and fair government. Both believe that they were providing a much better government to those they conquered.

3. Both established transnational trading systems. In the areas of the Roman imposed peace, they established road networks, a postal system, and commercial stability. Similarly, the U.S. has led the way in bringing about a global system of commerce and trade.

4. Both had long conflicts with major rivals, ending in triumph and unrivaled power. Roman won its long war with Carthage; the U.S. over Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R..

5. Both borrowed their basic culture from predecessors. Rome from Greece. The U.S. from Britain and Western Europe.

6. Both dominated the rest of the world with military superiority.

7. Both took advantage of advanced technology to improve the lives of their peoples.

8. Both attracted substantial numbers of immigrants from other parts of the world.

9. Rome often used local leaders to manage the local populations. The U.S. does the same.

10. Both are responsible for a “transnational language.” Latin in the case of Rome. English in the case of the U.S.

11. Both experienced a movement to centralize political power. This centralization has been accompanied by a decline in the politics of participation and an increase in the politics of the spectacle. Games and pleasure took the place of a civic life. A few elite families tended to dominate the national political life.

12. Both developed an increased reliance on a professional military, depending less and less upon the citizen soldier.

13. Both experienced growing opposition at the boundaries. The resulting conflicts increased dependence on the military. The costs of military preparedness and defense strained the basic economic systems.

14. The U.S. has went from a republic to an oligarchy, while the Roman republic was transformed into rule by an emperor.

15. Both used entertainment (Romans with gladiators and Americans with "reality" TV) as a way to distract citizens from internal abuse, corruption, fraud and external misadventures as well.

There are some important differences between Rome and America, including:

1. The U.S. has relatively few colonies compared to Rome.

2. The U.S. has an expanding human rights agenda although the hypocrisy is noted.

3. While Romans took pride in their empire, Americans generally reject the term as it applies to them.

I wondered about all this as I watched our military try to deal with armed revolts in Iraq. The imperial Romans would know what do. Brutally crush the rebellion and do whatever it takes to teach the Iraqis that resistance brings swift and terrible punishment--without mercy or “due process.”

Have we become so much like the Romans that we are prepared to teach such lessons? I don’t think so.

Most Americans still do not have the “conqueror’s mentality” that is a prerequisite for crushing the prolonged resistance of an occupied people.

The American people have many faults. But desiring an empire or brutalizing the people of other nations in the name of empire is not one of them. It is a big difference from the Romans, one that I hope will never change. It is a difference that our leaders should remember the next time they send Americans to liberate, conquer, or occupy another people’s country.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dukes Fest 2009

I'm proud to say I finally met Daisy Duke at Dukes Fest 2009 in Sevierville. For the record, she is 5'8", but was wearing three-inch heels thus she appears taller than me. I'm 5'9". I had to wait about two hours in line for it to happen, and I was one of the earliest people there two hours before Daisy even made her noon appearance. She was supposed to have arrived at 11, but she was running late due to a late flight, catching up on her sleep and the drive from her hotel in Knoxville. When she did show up, she had her personal assistants, armed escort and all. LOL. No fights broke out either.

Problems aside, it was well worth it. I also met Enos. An all-around nice man. You can view more pictures on Facebook. Just send me a friends request.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm Taking A Break From Politics

"The important thing is to concentrate upon what you can do - by yourself, upon your own initiative." Harry Browne

I won't need to elaborate too much on the title of my post, but in a nutshell, I am not going to donate money nor involve myself in politics at least for the next few years. I think my work over the past eight years speaks for itself. What more do I need to say?

For the first time in a long time, I have a focus on where I want to go in life which is to get into physical education or coaching in some capacity. There are so many things I want to do that I put off or didn't focus on because I was more concerned with the well-being of my country and world. In retrospect, I should have done this around five years ago. But I was an idealist wrapped up in saving the world. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn't have wasted my time working on campaigns, donating to causes I believe in, spending countless hours at rallies, protests, and events. What did I get for it? Not much in the way of liberty because sadly most people refuse to listen. It is like people lack self-respect and empathy for others.

That being said, I figure it will be better to let things develop as they may and if people have to figure it out the hard way, then so be it. I can't save the world anyways. That was done around 2,000 years ago. I will still follow up on current events and keep in touch. But this is my time and my life. I am going to seize the moment and run with it.

The funny thing is that yes, you can have freedom in an unfree world.
I smack myself on the forehead everytime I think back to reading this book in 2001, yet failed to apply the principles from it until recently. Politics is a detriment to freedom, not an ends to a means.

Where others don't do well in bad times due to any number of factors such as only seeing themselves being one thing their whole lives, being told what to do and what to think, etc..., I have learned to flow like water. I will not allow Washington's recession to affect my life. I want to travel, learn to scuba dive, sky-dive, ride horses again, collect muscle cars when money and time will allow such. I am 33. Most people at 33 have already been married at least once. I have never even been in a relationship. I was terribly shy around girls when I was a teenager and in my 20's, it was school, work and politics that took almost all my time. Needless to say, I'm in the driver's seat now and you can either come along with me for the ride or get left behind.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

College Enrollment Process Coming Along

I've spent the past six weeks taking care of enrollment matters at Carson-Newman. So far, things are coming along pretty well. I paid my orientation fee and will be attending this week. I have already met some future classmates on Facebook. I have also been in touch with several football coaches and will continue that path too.

It has been said that a change will do you good. I've needed a career change for quite some time since my original career choice didn't work out. Another challenge is that since I have a variety of interests, it can be very difficult to channel them all into a single career. But I've always enjoyed sports athletic ability and size notwithstanding. Is anyone else embarking on a career change?